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(I}. Mo dsia appear to exist for the accurate delimitation of tribal boundaries, and thii Hap is only approximate. 
(2J. The boundaries of Vai. Goto. Kiai, are unknown ; the trim, and Bulsm (Sherbro), are virtually swallcu/td up tj Vie Uendi. 
North of Frietou/n there are only scattered communities of Butsm 


ON . 




Government Anthropologist. 













IV. — Religion 

V. — Cult of the Dead 

VI. — Witchcraft 

VII.— Satka, Wanka, etc. 
VIII.— Ritual Prohibitions ... 
IX.— Divination, Ordeals, Omens 



I. — Introductory 

II. — Demography 

III. — Paramount Chief -° 







X. — Marriage 91 


XL — Kinship 

XII. — Birth, Twins, Circumcision 

XIII.— Burial 

XIV.— Totemism 13 - 

XV. — Secret Societies 143 

XVI. — Law, Criminal 1)3 

XVIL— Slavery 

XVIIL— Inheritance, Land, Debt 

XIX.— Farming and Crops !"- 

XX. — Technology and Science 1<< 

Note on Botanical Features, by Dr. O. Staff... 181 

Glossary •■• 1°" 

Index 189 



Map — Showing Distribution of Tribes, by 
Major (now Lieutenant-Colonel) C. E. 
Palmer, D.S.O., R.A., formerly attached 
to the Sierra Leone Battalion, West 
African Frontier Force... ... ... Frontispiece 

Facing page 

I. — (a) Susu "Weaving; (b) Suspension Bridge ... 11 

II. — (a) Timne House; (b) Limba Stone House ... 12 

III.— (a) Konten ; (b) Timne Girl 20 

IV. — (a) Sanko ; (b) Satimaka 28 

V. — (a) Koranko Image; (b) Maskers (Timne) ... 39 

VI. — Sacrifice : (a) For Health ; (b) For Good Sleep 41 

VII. — Sacrifice : (a) For Bad Dead ; (b) For Farm ... 43 

VIII.— Susu Boy 60 

IX. — (a) Atettot ; (b) Sena 84 

X. — Timne Man (Sanda) 90 

XL— Timne Man (Yoni) 96 

XII.— Timne Woman (Sanda) 110 

XIIL— (a) Bundcj "Devil"; (b) Circumcision Mask ... 117 

XIV.— Graves : (a) Timne ; (b) Susu 129 

XV. — Timne Woman (South) 140 

XVI. — Yalunka Man and Woman 146 

XVII.— Limba Girl 152 

XVIII.— Koranko Man 160 

XIX, XX.— Pot Making (Sanda) 177 


The colony and protectorate of Sierra Leone lie between 
7° N. and 10° N. in latitude, and 10° 50' W. and 13° 50' W. 
in longitude, with a total area of about 31,000 square miles, 
and a native population of more than a million and a quarter. 

The area near the coast is, with the exception of the 
mountainous region near Freetown, uniformly flat and, in 
the rainy season, in many parts swampy. Higher ground is 
found eastwards towards the Liberia n border, and hill 
country is entered soon after crossing the Seli on the road to 
Kaballa, which lies fully 1,200 feet above the sea, with 
surrounding hills perhaps 800 feet higher still, some of them 
occupied by Limba villages built in part of stone. 

The rivers run in the main from north-east to south-west, 
the Moa, Sewa, Taia, Seli (Eokelle), Kabba (Little Scarries), 
and Kolente (Great Scarries) being the most important, 
though rapids often make navigation impossible not far 
from the mouth. The Seli takes its rise not far from the 
head- waters of the Niger, here known as the . Joliba. 

Except in the hill country in the north-central area 
vegetation is exceedingly rich, and there are more than 1,500 
species of trees and plants, exclusive of rice and cultivated 

Among the animals may be mentioned the chimpanzee, 
on the Scarries and in the area between Freetown and 
the Liberian borders, the hippopotamus and pigmy hippo- 
potamus, elephant, bongo, cob, bush buck, and a number of 
duiker ; leopard and many kinds of cat, dwarf buffalo, and 
wild pig. 

Among the birds, guinea fowl, francolin, greater and lesser 
plantain eaters, bustard, and many kinds of duck are found ; 

snares are set for birds, especially near the marshy areas in 
the south, where spur-winged geese are plentiful. 

Snakes are abundant, but apparently not dangerous as a 
rule, though the spitting cobra is not uncommon. 

Scorpions and land crabs are found, and fish are plentiful 
in the rivers, though until recently only eleven species were 
known from the whole area. 

There were comparatively few opportunities of ascertaining 
facts as to the prevalence of disease, but the natives do not 
suffer to the same extent as the Nigerian peoples from 
indolent ulcers. The various tribes showed a marked 
difference of character in respect of the readiness with which 
they submitted to treatment. Except in Susu villages it 
was very rare for patients to accept an invitation to come 
for medicine ; but Susus were everywhere ready to come 
forward, even when the tribe among whom they resided 
showed no inclination to do so. 

Old men seemed far less frequent than in Nigeria, but no 
exact estimate of age was possible in the absence of historical 
events of known date as a starting-point. There can be no 
doubt that the wars, which went on till some twenty years 
ago, swept off masses of the population ; in one town I was 
told by an old man that seven of his nine wives had dis- 
appeared in this way. 

In physical appearance there appears to be a well-marked 
difference between the Mandingo peoples and the other 
tribes. The Susus and the Mencli are more lightly built than 
the Timne ; the Limba type is different from either, and they 
are perhaps somewhat darker. 

Many of the natives in the south appear to be very 
capable traders ; in one family, four of whose members 
received part of the farming capital for trading purposes, 
more than £2,500 w T as banked in seven years from the 
surplus profits. In general, however, the native appears to 
be unintelligent and singularly lacking in initiative ; it is a 
rare occurrence to give an order to a man and find it carried 
out promptly and intelligently, or even carried out at all. 

The Limba is perhaps rather superior to the other tribes in 
this respect. 

The Mendi is a better carrier than the Timne , and he 
seems to be generally more resolute, though he is at the 
same time more light-hearted. On one occasion Timne 
carriers, who were called upon to wade a river in Hood, which 
was no more than chest deep, gave themselves up for lost, 
when the Mendi hammock boys were quite unperturbed. 

The cheerfulness of the Mendi, on the other hand, makes 
him less prudent. 

Freetown itself is inhabited by the descendants of liberated 
Africans, who, fifty years ago, spoke hundreds of different 
languages, as Koelle has left on record in his Polyglotta 
Africana ; to-day Yoruba (Aku) and possibly Ibo 

Of the languages of the Protectorate, Fulfulde (Fula) is 
spoken by scattered sections of the tribe, covering over a 
large part of the area, who are in most cases sedentary, 
sometimes in their own villages, and mainly occupied with 

The remaining languages are Soudanese, and fall into two 
main groups, prefix and non-prefix tongues. To the former, 
which may be called the old group, belong (a) Timne, (b) 
Limba (with several dialects), and (c) Bulam (Mampa 
Sherbro), Krim, and Kisi, which are closely related. 

The non-prefix languages are : (a) Gola, an isolated tongue 
on the Liberian border with no known affinities beyond 
those existing between all Soudanese languages, and (b) the 
Mandingo group, of which the following are included in 
British territory : Susu, Yalunka, Koranko, Kono, Yai, Loko, 
and Me,ndi, of which the last differs in a somewhat marked 
degree from the normal Mandingo type. 

Me,ndi is and has for some time been swallowing up its 
smaller neighbours, Bulam (Sherbro), Krim, and Yai ; it is 
by no means improbable that some of the features of MQndi 
are due to the fact that the Mandingo element in the tribe 
is far smaller than in the other tribes mentioned above ; this 


is borne out by the fact that Mendi has several well-marked 

On the north-west of Freetown Bulom, of which the 
Timne name is Mampa, is being swallowed up by Timne, and 
is only found in isolated groups. 

It is certain that considerable changes have taken place in 
comparatively recent times in the distribution of the tribes ; 
for Port Loko is now a Timne area, but from its name it is 
clear that it has been in recent times in Loko hands. The 
Timne occupation of the Butam shore is also comparatively 
recent, if the maps published at the end of the eighteenth 
century can be accepted as a guide. Even in 1854 Koelle 
says that Timne territory is south of the " Sierra Leone " 
river. It must, however, be remembered that the treaty of 
cession of the colony proves that the Freetown area was in 
Timne bauds in 1788. 

As to the conditions previous to this period we have little 
or no information save from tradition, which goes to show 
that at no very remote era the Protectorate was covered with 
virgin forest, of which the remains are found on the Liberian 
boundary and between the Timne and Northern Mendi 
areas; south of the forest lay the Bulom, but the forest 
itself seems to have been mainly uninhabited. One curious 
fact, however, possibly not without significance in this 
connection, may be quoted. The German word for parrot is 
" papagei," the English word " popinjay " is from the same 
root, and cognate words are found in Portuguese and other 
European languages ; both have been traced to Arabic and 
other roots, but without any great certainty. The Timne, 
Limba, and Loko word for parrot is pampakei, and it seems 
clear that the German and Timne words are genetically 
connected. We know that words for pine-apple (ananas), 
tomato (tambatis), etc., have been introduced with the 
objects themselves ; but there is no reason to suppose that 
parrots, which are comparatively rare even in the southern 
Timne area, and quite unknown in the northern portions, so 
far as my observation goes, were ever introduced in the same 

way, still less that they were introduced by Portuguese or 
other white men, as must have been the case if the Timne 
adopted a European word. 

If, however, parrots were introduced into Europe by some- 
one who visited the West Coast in the Middle Ages and 
brought back some of the birds, the puzzle is to explain why 
they should have adopted a name from tribes of which two — 
Limba and Loko — have never, so far as we know, been on 
the coast, nor on a navigable creek save at Port Loko, and the 
third penetrated to the coast in all probability long after the 
word reached Europe. 

There are other tribes nearer the Gambia which have a 
cognate name for parrot, and it may be that it is from them 
and not the Sierra Leone tribes that the word is borrowed. 
In any case no certain inference can be drawn from the facts. 
Tradition states that the Timne came from the east, and 
not only have they isolated the Loko from the Mendi, sub- 
sequently flowing round them to the west, but the Limba 
mass, north and east of the northern Timne, has the appear- 
ance of having been pushed on one side by an incursive 
people, but the fact that the Baga and other tribes speaking 
Timne dialects are in French territory suggests that the 
people came from the west ; perhaps only the chief came 
from the east. 

As regards the old group, Limba is definitely a prefix 
language, as the following forms show : — 

Singular. Plural. English. 

hutiti tatiti tooth 

kutai natai foot 

te hate fowl 

hurak inarak stone 

wali mbali slave 

but names of animals, with few exceptions, seem to have a 
suffix plural : — 

Singular. Plural. English. 

kanrpa kampan elephant 

kosa koseh pis; 


The principal prefix is ku, hu (ta, na); fo (ta), fa (nip, 
na), w (b), are also found. 

Tlie situation as to Timne is perfectly clear. The prefixes 
serve to form the plural, and at the same time indicate 
whether the noun is in the definite or indefinite form, i.e., 
whether it corresponds to the noun with the definite or with 
the indefinite or no article. 

As regards Bulom, Krim, and Kisi, the situation is less 
clear. There can be no doubt that the languages are closely 
allied in vocabulary, as the following specimens show : — 

Bui 'nil. 






















































ijulam forms the plural in some cases by prefix, e.g.. can, 
ncan, tooth; rin, irin, hair; rok, nrok, grandchildren; 
and the same is true of Krim, which is obviously a prefix 
language in the above list: — tanye, munye, ear; kuca, 
nine a, tooth; kusu, in usu,' finger. Even Kono seems to 
have the prefix plural in a few forms, e.g., moya, eya, eye. 

When, however, we turn to Kisi, the plural is formed by 
suffix or change of vowel in the last syllable : — hotin, 
hotan, eye; kinde, kindon, tooth; ba, balah, hand; 
keyo, kerah. house; bqngo, behgulah, foot. 

It seems, however, evident that there is no prefix change 
to form the plural ; yet the forms yinde (hair), hotin (eye) 

Plate I. 

susu weaving. See page 1 2. 

SUSPENSION BRIDGE OF creepers; See page 12. 


when we compare them with the forms in the other 
languages suggest that prefixes are not unknown. 

In some cases the Kisi suffix change seems to he clearly a 
change of form in the determinative do, kinde, kindo, tooth ; 
yomdo, yomde, tree; but in the case of ba, balan, hand; 
keyo, keran, house; kamao, kamani, elephant, we have 
the addition of 1(a), r(a) or n, which apparently indicates the 

On the whole it seems probable that Kisi, which is isolated 
among the Mandingo group, has lost its old prefix methods 
and adopted suffix change, in a certain number of cases only, 
as a means of indicating the plural. 

Articles, or forms of the noun taking the place of articles, 
are not a normal feature of Mandingo languages. It 
is therefore worthy of note that Mendi, and Lqko, have 
suffixes i with, in Mendi at least, different forms for the 
plural to indicate the definite and indefinite forms of the 

Kisi appears to use do, o, with a plural ni; Bulam and 
Krim have a form de, winch is apparently determinative, 
while Limba and Gola use yo, ho; the Limba plural in n is 
perhaps connected with the form ni. 

Tones play a considerable part in Mendi, Limba, and 
Bulam ; and their importance in Mandingo languages may 
be regarded as probable. In Timne, on the other hand, 
owing, no doubt, largely to the development of prefixes, 
which vastly diminish the possibility of homonyms, they 
play a very subordinate role. 

The small dialectical differences in Timne may point to its 
being, in its present form, of late origin, which no doubt 
favoured the dropping out of tones. 

The mode of life and native products of the tribes, of 
whatever group, show singularly little variation over the 
whole area. The Yalunka and Koranko are perhaps the 
most diversified as regards manufactures, though the 
Koranko products on sale in Freetown are confined to a 
small area of the Koranko country. 


Of important ethnographical features the xylophone (Kor 
b a Ian ye,) is confined to the Koranko, the loom (Plate I) to 
Susu, Mendi and Limba with few exceptions, pottery mainly 
to the Mendi, though this is due principally to the introduction 
of European pots, mainly of iron. 

The general form of the house is everywhere the same, 
save where the rectangular house has penetrated, coming 
from Freetown. It is circular with, as a rule, small rooms 
outside the main wall, but under the main roof. The thatch 
is of grass tied down on poles secured to each other by a 
series of circular rings (Plate II) . The substructure of the 
walls is of wood, upright poles sunk in the ground with 
horizontal pieces to give rigidity. The portion of the house 
outside the main wall which is not taken up with the kohko, 
or small room, is often fenced with a low wall and forms a 
veranda in front and behind, which is sometimes on a level 
with the ground, sometimes raised above and approached by 

In the Limba country near Kaballa is found a feature 
very unusual in West Africa — the use of stone in the con- 
struction of houses (Plate II). At present there are no data 
to show whether this was sporadic or derived from some other 
area ; possibly the use of sun-dried bricks at Falaba may 
have suggested the idea; but it is more probably clue to the 
scarcity of suitable material for house-building on the tops 
of the hills. 

The double gong is characteristic of the Limba. 

In this area we also find large mud rice-bins built inside the 
house, two or three feet in diameter, and sometimes as much 
as seven feet high. 

Native suspension bridges (Plate I), in use on the Seli and 
other rivers, are perhaps of Koranko origin, though they are 
also found in the Timne country to the south of this tribe. 

The hammock and sling are in general use among all tribes ; 
loads, especially rice, are carried with a pack and head band. 

Secret societies flourish, especially in the Mendi and 
adjacent Timne areas, but the Susu and Limba have important 

Plate IT. 

house building at mapori. See page 12. 

STONE house (limba) at yakala. See page 1 "_'. 


societies. The woman's society, Bundu, is not known to all 
the Limba, nor is clitoridectomy practised west of Kaballa ; 
but there is nothing to show by which tribe it was introduced 
or how it originated in this part of West Africa. According 
to a MS. of Schlenker, who was in the Tinine country sixty 
years ago, Bundu was learned by the Timne from the Meridi. 

Circumcision appears to be universal. 

Various dialects of Timne are distinguished but the 
differences are small. The northern branch are known as 
Sanda Timne ; it was in this area that most of my enquiries 
were made. 



In order to ascertain the proportions of the sexes at birth 
and in mature life, and to obtain information as to the 
effect of polygyny on fecundity, the sex ratio of the first- 
born, the relative mortality of males and females and other 
matters, genealogies were collected giving details of the 
families of over two hundred and seventy men, including one 
with fifty wives, who was himself the son of a man who had 
sixty wives and one hundred children. 

Fifty-three daughters in these families had gone to 
husbands, but there was no information as to whether they 
were monogamous marriages or not. There was, however, a 
tendency to omit or overlook their dead children, and the 
same was true in a more marked degree of the information 
about older generations of my informants' families. These 
data are therefore not as a rule included. 

In addition to these genealogies a few villages were 
completely counted and random samplings were made of 
chance assemblages of men at various places. For my 
genealogies were mainly derived from sub-chiefs and were apt 
to show an undue proportion of polygynous marriages, and 
might introduce other errors into the data. 

On the whole, however, it was found that the systematic 
census could not be carried out with success even with the 
support of the paramount chief ; in more than one place the 
information vouchsafed in his presence was plainly erroneous 
and deliberately falsified. In other cases the paramount chief 
refused to give any assistance in the enquiry. On the whole, 
therefore, the data collected in this way were in bulk con- 
siderably less than those obtained by the genealogical method, 
and the reliability was inferior ; the glaringly erroneous data 
have, however, been omitted. 

On the whole, the two sets of statistics show such close 


agreement as regards the sex ratio in the total births that 
there can be little doubt of their reliability. As might 
perhaps be expected, the mortality, both among males and 
females, was higher in the general count than in the 

Generally speaking, in the genealogies there were 422 
male births to 258 female, a ratio of 100 to 61 ; in the 
census 294 to 206, a ratio of 100 to 69. Males surviving 
were to females surviving in the ratios of 100 to 55 - 6 and 
100 to 64. 

Taking the children and grouping together those of the 
first wife, whether in polygynous or monogynous families, 
and so on, we find, though with very small numbers, a small 
drop in the percentage of females from the third wife 
onwards, — only 54 per cent. 

It is interesting to note that this proportion held good in 
the large polygynous family mentioned above, in which thirty 
males were borne by the wives numbered seven and upwards 
on my list, and only fifteen females. There is, however, some 
uncertainty as to the precise order of the wives, as my 
informant was a junior member of the family and no senior 
member was available, and it is quite possible that some of 
the thirty-five unfertile wives should have been included 
among the first six. 

Generally speaking, however, the data confirm the results 
obtained in Nigeria that polygyny favours an excess of male 
births ; but having regard to the small numbers and to the 
natural excess of male births even in monogynous marriages 
— a condition that does not prevail in Nigeria — the result is 
less important than might appear at first sight. 

In the census it was impossible to establish in every case 
which was the first wife ; and similar figures can only be 
given therefore under great reservations. So far as they go, 
the numbers being still smaller than in the genealogies, there 
is hardly any difference between the numbers of the two 
sexes born by wives numbered from four upwards ; but the 
total number of children was less than fifty. 


If we now group the children by patrilineal families instead 
of by the numerical order of their mothers, we find in the 
genealogies no marked law in the proportion of females 
which is 60, 62, 53, 74, 79, 43, in ascending order of families 
according to the number of wives per family up to six. 

In the census the proportion of females is 75, 45, 50, 109, 
75, 63. Here again, therefore, there is no evidence of the 
operation of any law. 

Taking now the sex ratio of the first-born, for which the 
genealogies alone are available, we find the proportion of 
females is for the wives in order 39, 60, 40, 115, 0, 200 (or, 
for the last three, 66) ; and by families, 43, 44, 54, 60, 55, 21 
(for six and all above). Here again there is no evidence of 
law,but the generalratio, 46 females to 100 males, is markedly 
different from the ratio for all births ; the difference is less 
marked if we add the families of the daughters mentioned 
above (p. 14), in which the ratio was 76 per cent. The first 
ratio by wives then becomes 47, and by families 54. 

As regards sterility, it is natural that in the case of men 
with one wife a considerable proportion should be recently 
married and therefore appear, unjustly, among the sterile. 
Out of a total of 191 monogamous marriages, including those 
of daughters, 27 were unfertile, nearly one-seventh. As, 
however, 36 out of 193 non-monogynous marriages were 
sterile, a proportion of three-sixteenths, it is not certain that 
one-seventh is too high a ratio. It must of course be recog- 
nised that the causes that made three out of five wives sterile 
in one case are very possibly not the same as those which 
made a monogamous wife sterile ; in the case of one large 
family in which, in the first generation, one man had 100 
children, and one of his sons had 67 by 50 wives, no less than 
thirty-five of these wives had no children, and if data were 
available as to his father the proportion would probably be 
equally great. 

In a certain number of polygynous marriages the most 
recent wife might have been married within the year and 
therefore figure as sterile. But obviously this proportion, if 


we take the case of a man with two wives, will probably not 
be more than one-half what it is in monogynous marriages, 
one-third in the case of the man with three wives and so on. 
On the whole, therefore, allowing for the fact that a certain 
proportion of the women are naturally sterile, it is clear that 
the proportion of sterility among polygynons wives is enor- 
mously in excess of what it is in the monogynons family. 

Turning now to the number of children per wife, we find 
that, even excluding sterile marriages, there is a progressive 
diminution as the number of wives increases. The married 
life of the second and later wives has ex hypothesi been 
shorter than that of the first wives ; but this fact hardly seems 
to explain entirely the diminution in fertility, which descends 
from 2'7 for the first wife to 1*8 for two, 16 for three, and 
1*4 for four to six. 

No stress can, however, be laid upon these data, in view of 
the small numbers involved, and especially in view of the fact 
that the census figures do not confirm them, the numbers 
being 2 - 3, 2'5, 2'4, 3*9 (mainly owing to two families, one of 
27, one of 17), 3, and 26. 

It has, however, been noted above that the census figures 
were demonstrably unreliable in some cases, and it is by no 
means improbable that while some unduly diminished the 
numbers of their children, others unduly magnified them. 

It seems clear from the census that males are slightly in 
excess of females. The results show 360 living males of all 
ages and 348 females, exclusive of casual lodgers in a house 
with only remote relationship to the head, or, at any rate, 
no direct relationship of descent. These include a certain 
number of women who have lost their husbands, and if they 
are included they would be nearly, if not quite, counterbalanced 
by the males, more especially younger brothers, who had lost 
their fathers and were without homes of their own. The ao-e 
of marriage being much lower for the woman, the number of 
females living under corresponding circumstances is also 
much lower. 

On the whole the proportion of twin births appears to be 



exceedingly low. Twins are not regarded as unlucky, and 
there is no reason to suppose that any twin births were 
concealed. The fact that in many cases special names are 
given to twins, such as Sento and Sino, and that the child 
next after twins is often called 'Bese (to be distinguished 
from another name similarly spelt but with different tone — 
'Bese), makes it comparatively easy to detect the presence 
of twins, even if the actual information is erroneous or 

Excluding the descendants of Seni Kabia of Magbile, only 
six or seven cases of twin births are recorded in the 
genealogy, a far lower proportion than appeared to prevail in 
Nigeria, where twins are, or were, systematically exposed by 
many tribes, and, prima facie, the twin-bearing stock 
correspondingly depleted. 

In the family of Seni Kabia, on the other hand, twins 
were far more numerous, though not perhaps exceptionally 
so in comparison with the normal European stock. 

Seni Kabia was himself a twin ; among his children were 
two pairs of twins ; and one of his children, not himself a 
twin, had also two pairs, as to whom no further information 
was obtained. 

Fode Kabia, son of Seni Kabia, had by his first wife three 
sets of twins among his twelve children, all but one of the 
twins being males. One of these twins was himself the 
father of twins, born prematurely. One other son of Fode 
was also the father of twins. There were in all ten pairs 
among 250 names recorded in the genealogies of the 
descendants of Seni Kabia ; only six or seven were recorded, 
on the other hand, among the 750 names in the remainder 
of the genealogies. 

In Tables I and III square brackets show the number of 
dead wives, round brackets the number of unfertile wives. 









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Table II. 
Wives and Childeen (Genealogies). 

The wives are given in each case in the order in which they were married. 

Plate J II. 


Table III. 

Wives and Children (by Families). Sex Eatio of 
First-born, etc. 












188 \ 
(38) J 






First wife. 

50 \ 
(12) J 






Second wife. 

29 I 
(8) / 






Third wife. 

14 \ 
(7) J 





7 '5* 

Fourth wife. 

o 6 )} 





Fifth wife. 







Sixth wife. 






* Twins. 
In this table round brackets show the number of unfertile wives. 






o < 


4 O'- 
The above is the ground plan of a typical village in the 
Sanda country. The houses were all small, but, almost 
without exception, had verandas. 

The occupants were as follows : — 

1. KQmbo, father's brother's son of No. 4. 

2. 10. Ke,nani, father's brother of No. 4. 

3. Drisa, father's father's son's son of No. 4. 

4. Pa Woso, head man of the village. 

5. Karefala, father's father's son's son. 

6. Bokari I, sister's son to No. 4. 

7. Bainya, brother of 12 and father's father's son of 4. 

8. Basi, „ „ „ „ 

9. Bankara, „ „ „ „ 

11. Moino, „ „ „ „ 

12. Bokari II, brother of 7, „ „ „ „ 

13. Held in trust by Pa Woso for the prospective second 

husband, Bonka, of the late owner's widow ; she 
was "Woso's brother's daughter, and lived with Bokari 
in No. 12 ; [this thirteenth house was untenanted.] 

One house was building, 
houses were : — 

The other inmates of these 


Table IV. 



Alive. Dead. 




Three of K's father's wives. 
Also Baki (son). 





1 :h 

1 2 1 

1 3 

2 2 1 

Also brother's wife, childless, in No 








Also B 

d in preced 

. " " 
asi (son). 


ing year). 




5. (1) 






(married preceding year). 
Also one brother. 

6. (1) (a widow) 

Also his mother. 








1 1 
ly married and pregnai 



Also Morlai (son), one wife, no childien. 



— . 

. — ■ 


(2) (dead) 

(3) „ 

Also m 

other and a 

mall brothe 




— 1 



12. (1) 

3 1 




1 l 
Also a widow, Binki, 

in this hous 




Totals 15 men, 27 
(+ 2 dead) 

24 | 13 21 16 

and two mothers, two brothers, one 
brother's wife, and four widows. 


From the close relationship of all the men of the village, 
it might be imagined that it was founded by Pa Woso's 
grandfather, but this did not appear to be the case, for it 
was said to be the oldest in the district. Possibly the 
explanation lies in part in the fact that four of the men had 
died in the previous months, and four more were gone away 
to work. This accounts also to some extent for the large 
proportion of wives — nearly two per adult male exclusive of 
the widows. 



The kande or paramount chief seems to be a comparatively 
recent figure in many areas; some, it is true, trace their 
power back to Bai Farama (or Farama Tami), who lived 
perhaps four hundred years ago ; but in many cases the 
chieftainship seems to go back only a few generations, and 
the original chief is said to have gained his position by his 
wealth ; for in olden days it appears to have been the duty 
of a paramount chief to compose differences by liberal 
presents to both sides. Where two tribes were fighting, a 
chief might spend £15 to £20 and send money to both 
parties. If they agreed to stop hostilities, an oath was 
taken and a cow, given by the chief, was sacrificed. This 
was divided into three parts, one for each of the contending 
parties and one for the chief. 

In other cases, especially where there are now two 
"families " {i.e., a bun a, clans) which share the succession to 
the chieftainship, there is a tradition that the second family 
gained its position owing to assistance given in war to the 
original family. The rule of succession is, of course, not in 
the direct male line where there are two or more houses, 
which sometimes represent, not original clans, but des- 
cendants of the same male ancestor; the term for '"house" in 
this case is kunte. In some cases at least the two-clan rule 
is traced back to the fact that a sister of the original chief or 
one of his successors was the mother of a man elected to the 
chieftainship. Under the rule of exogamy this necessarily 
involves a change of clan. 

It is, however, clear that the simple dying out of the 
original family or the youth of its eldest male members when 
the time came for them to succeed, is not an adequate 


explanation of succession through the female line ; for in 
some cases there is a record of a chief's daughter helping him 
and being the overseer of his house. This suggests that she 
probably attained some authority and was able to influence 
the election. 

In some cases the two houses are actually of different 
tribes ; at Kamalu there is a Loko and a Timne line, though 
it must be remembered that, owing to the suzerainty claimed 
by Brama Sanda, Kamalu was never recognised as a full 

The original chiefs were by no means necessarily of the 
same blood as the people whom they governed. It is, indeed, 
not quite clear how far the country was populated, nor how 
far the travellers from the east brought their own people 
with them ; but tradition makes it clear that Koranko, 
Mandingo, Loko, and Limba houses are now among the 
Timne chiefs. 

The paramount chief is supreme in his own district, and 
can in theory decide law cases as he chooses ; if, however, 
his decisions are glaringly opposed to recognised law, the 
aggrieved suitor has, at least in theory, the power to go to 
another chief, of repute as a judge, and, after paying a fee, 
state his case to him ; the chief would then send to the chief 
who tried the case originally, and request him to remit it 
to him for re-trial ; this, of course, in order to secure the 
presence of the other party and the witnesses. It appears 
to be held that a chief cannot, without loss of reputation, 
refuse to allow a fellow-chief to review his decisions ; but 
whether a suitor would gain anything in the long run by 
appealing against his chief's law is quite another matter. 

His authority over his sub-chiefs appears to be almost 

The customs with regard to the election, crowning, burial, 
etc., of the chief differ widely from place to place, and no 
generalised account of the matter can be given. Many of 
these customs are regarded as secret, and it was impossible to 
check the information, which appeared to be given in good 


faith and with the tacit consent of the chief ; in more than 
one case, in fact, the chief's son himself gave me the facts, 
evidently on his father's behalf. 

The chiefs are subject to many ritual prohibitions over and 
above those incumbent on the mass of the people (see p. 69) ; 
and it is a matter of some interest to discover how these 
arose. A natural idea would be that those chiefs who came 
from other tribes brought with them their tribal customs 
and retained them unchanged ; but of this there does not 
seem to be any evidence ; on the contrary, Koranko chiefs 
in their own country are singularly unhampered by ritual 
restrictions. It appears far more probable that the prohibi- 
tions were developed, at least in part, by the contact between 
a foreign chief and an indigenous people, precisely as the 
contact between two races has a tendency to cause the 
development of secret societies. 

In the Sanda country, corresponding to the subordinate 
position of the chiefs, the mas am and the customs generally 
are of minor importance. At Kanialu the choice of a new 
chief, always from the other house, i.e., from the alternative 
one to that of the last chief, appears to rest with the men of 
sixty or over. A man of the second house appears to act as 
adviser to a chief of the first house. The chief is known as 
Bai Samura. 

When the time comes for crowning, the chosen man is shut 
up in the kanta for six days or more ; his wife cooks for 
him, and the important men may also see him. 

The house is " opened " for the chief to come out by the 
or ok, or resent, who is often his sister's son. The chief is 
taken to the grass field and they name his clan, and ask the 
other clansmen if they are glad ; thereupon they put con- 
tributions in a calabash, and a mo, rim an puts a white cloth 
on the chief's head and takes the money given. The end of 
this cloth must hang down to the chief's waist from the back 
of his head ; for a sub-chief it is on the right side. 

When he sends for a town to work for him, they work for 
one day ; four days later another town comes, and so on. 


In the remainder of the Timne area we find the para- 
mount chiefs proper, who are divided into Poro and Kagbenle 
chiefs (see p. 143). All, or nearly all, are subject to special 
ritual prohibitions, the origin of which is obscure. Although 
tradition says that the chiefs came from the east, and some, at 
least, were Korankos, ritual prohibitions of this kind were 
not found among the Koranko chiefs visited. 

In some chiefdoms there is a man who represents the 
" chiefship" 

At Mamaka he is called Sanko (Plate IV) ; Sanko and the 
chief, Satimaka, must be in separate houses ; like the chief, he 
may not go where bundu implements are kept, nor where 
tli ere is a new-born child. It is significant that at the chief's 
death his Sanko retires and is replaced by another man after 
offering a sacrifice. 

Sanko wears a helmet of leather surmounted by a tuft ; the 
face is of brass and there is a brass plate behind ; strips of 
leopard skin are attached to the base, and over the skin is 
fibre that reaches to the waist. He has fibre ruffles round 
his wrists and net anklets with fibre tops. Four sticks tied 
together (bonkQloma) are in his hand ; they are the chief's 
staff ; in point of fact the staff actually used by the chief is 
quite different, long and forked at the top. 

The chiefship mask of Magbile is known as arqn arabai; 
like Sanko the wearer cannot come out when the chief is 
dead ; the mask is kept in the chief's house. The dress is 
formed of skins, and he has palm-fibre trousers. 

When he goes out to walk through the land he carries a 
broom and whips to flog people who do not come out when 
he dances. He can judge cases and pay the money received 
to the chief. 

Plate IV. 




Although the coming of Mohammedanism doubtless modi- 
fied profoundly in some directions the traditional belief and 
customs of the natives, especially in the direction of decad- 
ence, without any corresponding influx of new ideas or rites 
to take the place of those that fell into desuetude, it does 
not seem difficult to descry the main features of the pre- 
Mohammedan religion. This did not differ very widely from 
what is found, with larger or smaller variations, in many 
other parts of the negro area. 

(1) The main deity, known as Kuru, or Kurumasaba, 
appears to have been a sky god ; he occasionally receives 
sacrifices, and this is possibly a Mohammedan innovation, for 
in the prayers that are the main feature of the satka (see 
p. 52) Kurumasaba is clearly regarded as the equivalent 
of Alia. Though Alia is doubtless the deity invoked and 
approached in the mosque, where the moriman's influence 
is supreme, it is Kurumasaba who is addressed, even by the 
good Mussulman, as soon as the literary influence is left 

The mere fact that the satka comprehends so many and 
so diverse elements is a proof, if any were needed, that the 
religious life has been little influenced by Mohammedanism ; 
but the name satka is clearly due to its influence, and may 
have been extended to cover many rites not originally 
embraced under one name or regarded as identical in their 
nature ; we need not, however, suppose that Kurumasaba 
was originally called upon in all these diverse ceremonies. 

In addition to Kurumasaba, we find at least one, and, 
perhaps, more than one, shadowy figure that suggests a 
heathen pantheon in former days. It was formerly the 


custom, and the practice still survives sporadically, to weep 
for Kumba at the beginning of the farming season. 

A long shed was made near the town and hoed with hooked 
sticks instead of iron hoes ; then rice was planted in the 
ground thus hoed. All the little children in the town went 
out repeating, " We cry for Kumba ; they are planting his 
rice to-day." 

Some of the people in the town danced and sang : " Abok 
Kumban o, abok Kumban o" — "We cry for Kumba, 0, 
we cry for Kumba." Xo one did any other work on this day. 

The rice was left uncut, for it was Kumba's ; he was said 
to be a very bad man w r ho spoiled all the rice in the world, 
and they had to plant his rice, they believed, when they 
began farming. 

This account of a custom now almost forgotten suggests 
that Kumba was a vegetation god of the type of Adonis ; 
nothing could, in that case, be more accurate than the state- 
ment that he owns all the rice in the world ; and when the 
custom began to fall into desuetude, the belief might well 
take the form that Kumba had to be propitiated in order 
that he might not spoil the rice, his rites being regarded as 
on all fours with those that are directed towards preserving 
the rice from the krifi and animals. 

In a neiohbourincr town, though of another tribe, Kumba 
was mentioned in another connection ; when no rain fell, all 
people who had farms went out singing, "We Kumba." The 
meaning of this was unknown, nor was anyone able to inform 
me who Kumba was, though it was suggested that he was a 

The rice gardens in this town, which belongs to the Loko 
tribe, were made in the same way as in the Sanda (Timne) 
country, and the additional information was vouchsafed that 
the hooked sticks used as hoes were hung in the roof of the 
long hut. 

The custom appears to be known asTubahga; it was 
associated in their minds with their " old people who died," 
for they interfered with the farming; the hoes they used 


were the hooks hung in the roof, and it was believed that 
they would use them again in cultivating the rice sown for 
them under the long roof. 

It was added that rice had to be offered on the graves, for 
otherwise dead men would catch the hoes, and there would 
be no good rice. The rice sown in the huts was left uncut ; 
it was masom. 

These accounts, perhaps, hardly add to the probability that 
Kumba was a vegetation deity, though it is true that powers 
over rain are ascribed to these beings in European folk-lore, 
and it is a Loko belief, apparently, that Kumba withholds 
the rain, or that an appeal to him will cause rain to fall. 

It might be argued that the rice gardens were connected 
with the cult of ancestors when the Kumba belief fell into 
the background ; but it might equally well be argued that 
the belief in Kumba's connection with rice was secondary. 
This explanation seems more probable in view of the fact 
that farther south in the Tinme country Kumban was not 
mentioned in connection with the custom, which was called 
Atobankere. Two small huts were built with a path 
between, and rice was sown in this and left to fall. It was 
universal some fifty years ago, but is now obsolete. 

(2) Below the main deity or deities come, as might be 
expected, a mass of minor spirits. 

(a) Some, and these form by far the majority, are name- 
less and known only by the generic term krifi, 
which in some tribes are not unnaturally equated 
by the learned with the Arab jin, and among the 
Susu are actually known by the name yina. 

(V) Others have definite names of their own, though 
apparently localised in more than one place, and 
therefore far from being single individuals. 

The nameless krifi are vaguely divided into good and bad ; 
sacrifices are offered to the former, especially in connection 
with farming, sometimes in association with Kurumasaba 
and the ancestors ; these good krifi are often supposed to 


live near the town, whereas the bad krifi live in the middle 
of the grass field or in the hush. But it happened to me 
more than once that some of my staff described a krifi whom 
they had seen in the neighbourhood of the town (actually a 
somewhat dwarfish native of the town), and obviously stood 
in tenor of him. 

Some physical malformation is often attributed to the bad' 
krifi : their fingers are bent and they are wry-necked ; but 
it is dangerous for anyone to laugh at them, for the krifi 
kills the disrespectful onlooker. Other krifi are "born" 
with hands against their heads. Krifi are both male and 
female, and according to one informant men see the female 
krifi, women the male krifi ; they are also supposed to be 
succ.ubi and incubi. 

Bad krifi carry off the children to the bush; they are 
recovered by " swearing " on an oath medicine (see p. 80) ; 
this alarms the krifi, and the children come back; but they 
become crazy if they talk about their experiences. 

Krifi akant (bush krifi) are not the same as those that 
spoil the rice ; they live in ant-hills, which have insects 
inside. Abempa must be performed for them or they will 
cause big sores, or a man will wound himself in the farm. 
As they are bush krifi, cassava that is planted in the bush is 
put near them. This kind of krifi causes erotic dreams, 
and when it is really angry it punishes a man by bringing 
his real sister, with whom he commits incest in the night 
unknowingly. If a woman is followed by a krifi, she offers 
cassava, bread, a stone and an ant-heap. The krifi is told 
to look after the cassava till it grows, as it is his ; if he does 
not do so, thieves may come. 

For the b^mpa rice must be provided and rubbish cleared 
away. After splitting a kola nut the man says : " Lout a, 
lonta" (as people do to the chief before discussing a palaver 
in his bare). Then they put the kola together again, 
saying : " I come to you ; I have brought you food." "When 
the kola is thrown, if the sections lie face up, the man says : 
•' "VVe beg, we beg," and eats it on the ground. A fowl is 


then killed by cutting its throat on the top of the ant-hill, 
and rice cooked. Water is brought by two people and the 
rice and fowl are divided between the krifi and the man 
who offers the b qui pa. He says : " This is the rice ; I come 
to beg you that when I walk I may not wound myself." 

One krifi is specially appropriated to women; it is called 
asar (stone), and is said to bring children. For the be, in pa a 
small cup is used with bread inside and white shirting round 
it, and is offered by a woman who has not conceived for a 
whole twelvemonth. When a child is born, two white 
fowls are offered and sickness is thus averted. 

Girls who go fishing have a krifi ; thev kill a smooth 
lizard (k ok on to) and give it to the krifi, which is 
represented by a white stone ; then all eat, or they will 
catch no fish. 

In Like manner boys who set traps cook and offer to the 
trap itself the first handful of food on a cassava leaf ; the 
trap is beaten with two sticks to make it catch game, for 
otherwise it will not kill. 

This krifi differs from all others in being a manufactured 
object, thus coming near many of the personal tutelary 
deities of Nigeria. The detail as to the beating of the trap 
is a singular one and recalls the many stories current in 
literature about the " fetish " that is beaten or thrown away 
if it does not profit the owner. In the present case the 
information was volunteered, not given in answer to a 
question. It is not, however, clear that the beating is ever 
repeated ; and clearly a beating when the trap is first made 
is not precisely on all fours with a beating administered 
because it has failed to catch game. 

There is of course nothing impossible or inherently absurd 
in the idea of chastising gods ; but in the present case there 
is at least a possibility that the original purpose of the rite 
was not chastisement. 

Whatever may be the case with the bad krifi, it seems 
probable that the good krifi are confused with, if they did 
not originate in, the " old dead people." After talking about 



krifi one informant went on to deal with the cult of 
ancestors and said that when a man died, they took a stone 
to represent him (in the boromasar) and "worshipped" 
him in this form. They were told to do this by the 
morinian, who talks to the krifi and is commonly supposed 
to be able, after shutting himself up for seven days and 
living on rice-bread, to tell people all about heaven and hell. 

Among the good krifi are the tambara ant^f, who 
" have " the country ; all towns collect fowls and rice and all 
head men go to this abempa. These krifi live in every big 
tree on the roads, never in the towns. 

The term krifi is, however, used in a still wider sense. 
In addition to tutelary spirits (possibly ancestral) associated 
with towns, and others of uncertain nature connected with 
certain chiefs (see p. 28), all secret societies have associated 
with them a krifi (actually represented by a human being- 
like some of those just mentioned) which holds the same 
position, so far as can be seen, as the masked figures in 
Nigerian societies ; that is to say, for the uninitiated, 
especially the women, there is something mysterious and 
perhaps awful about such a being, who may perhaps be 
regarded as having been originally a kind of tutelary deity 
of the society ; on the other hand, it is also possible that, the 
aim of the societies being, in some cases, to educate or 
to exercise judicial functions, the krifi was originally a 
mere bugbear. 

Among the krifi that possess personal names must be 
mentioned Aronso, the hunter krifi ; it carries a gun and 
kills people and cows, using stolen powder ; its shouts can be 
heard but the krifi itself is said to be invisible, according to 
one account. It has clothes of iron, which rattle at night ; a 
bag containing hammers and pieces of iron, a matchet, keys 
and traps for birds and fish are also among the properties 

Aronso is said to shoot at animals and suck their blood 
and fat, so that they are tasteless when men try to eat them. 
In like manner when an animal is offered to a krifi, its 


acceptance is shown by its falling dead and people know the 
krifi has taken it ; the krifi takes the ankolo (real sheep) 
and leaves the amfos (empty husk). 

Another account of Aronson says that he is a thief that 
steals and brings to his master ; he has a hag with a rope, 
" chisel," and purse (see Part III, p. 55) ; if he is caught 
stealing fish and threatened, he offers the contents of his bag ; 
the man who chooses the rope always has cows; the man who 
chooses the " chisel " digs bush yams ; and the man who 
chooses the purse is always rich. If a man grabs the whole 
bag, the krifi goes at night with his gun, making a 
whistling sound, and forces the man to disgorge. 

The krifi that make men rich must be paid, or they burn 
a man's house ; but if the man "begs " them, he will be even 
richer than before. The man himself must not eat of the 
sheep that he sacrifices or he will die ; other men may eat of 
it. Some men kill the sheep under a big tree, putting a 
stone down to represent the krifi; this is not an ordinary 
stone but one chosen by a " four-eyed " man, who sees the 
krifi ; it lives in the stone. 

A krifi of this sort, that lives under a tree, will be 
worried if a man takes moss from the tree and will make 
the man's house leaky by removing the thatch, stalk by 

According to another account, in the esoteric view the 
krifi does not live in the stone but is the stone. If this is 
correct, it is in curious contradiction to the accounts given 
me in Nigeria, where the common man says that the stone is 
the demi-god, while the priest says the stone represents him. 

Another krifi is known as (Ain)Yaro ; he lives in the 
water and can be seen by a man with good eyes ; he makes a 
bargain and agrees to make a man rich in return for a cow 
or a sheep ; if the bargain is not kept, he kills the man. 
Sometimes, if the man has no cow or sheep, the krifi sets 
the town on fire and reckons that as his reward ; some men 
say to him : " Burn only my house." Yaro gives his son or 
daughter to a man, who must follow their advice ; if the 

d 2 


man gets another child, the first one, which sits and talks 
like a human being, but can be seen only by a " four-eyed " 
person, will go away ; on no account should a man take a 
child from a second krifi or the first krifi will kill him. 

Yaro is said to have a body covered with shining scales, 
which are sometimes picked up ; on examination these scales 
turned out to be flakes of mica. 

Another krifi, whose name is generic rather than 
individual, is Asipromantr (water leopard) ; he kills people 
indiscriminately, and not only those who. see him. If he 
lives in a deep pool, he catches those who fall in. 

Kumpamatir is also said to be a krifi that lives near 
water, though in point of fact he resembles far more the 
krifi of a society and conies out when the rice is growing to 
drive away witches who take the form of birds and animals 
in order to steal the rice. Kumpamatir is said to be 
called by beating sticks together. He parades the town and 
utters a peculiar groan or growl like that of a satisfied 
animal. A witch is said to fall sick and moan in the same 
way ; blood also issues from his nose (hence perhaps the 
name Kumpamatir). Kesmatir (catch the blood) is a 
name used by the Kagbenle when they come out on account 
of the rites. 

Although by the native it is reckoned among the wanka 
(see p. 60), the ate, ttQ t (Plate IX) is really a woman's krifi, 
put up in order to procure children ; but as it descends to her 
children and a woman " joins " it like a secret society, the 
fact that the krifi is regarded as the enemy of thieves, like 
the wanka, may well be neglected in classifying the atgtto, t. 

One informant told me that her mother had no children 
and was told by the diviner to "join the wanka." She bore 
a daughter, and the woman who had initiated her said the 
child must bear her name. 

When the child grew up and married, her husband put up 
the hut for the atQttot; and the woman put in the stones 
which represent the krifi, whose name was Bandu. 

In the hut were kept four stones to represent Bandu, and 

■ 37 

sixteen a tun k a shells as ambai, kings of the wanka, who 
serve as messengers. All these were in a basin covered with 
cloth. Over the door were two fans as a satka to keep evil 
from the " medicine " ; outside was a pole with fans, a satka 
that money might come. 

The " kings " are said to decide cases, i.e., catch thieves ; 
when the owner puts rice mixed with palm oil on the stones, 
she says : " Eat, call for money." 

If a man enters the hut, the wanka will follow him; 
whatever he does will fail and disgrace him. 

This wanka helps to bring rice, and the owner of an 
atqttQt begins to eat new rice after sacrificing ; this is done 
in March for six years, after that for twelve years new rice 
can be eaten at once ; then for six years the rites are 
performed in March ; and so on, the time being reckoned by 
the farms. 

According to another account a girl joins the anfam 
nate,t atot (people of the small house) before her marriage, 
and has medicines rubbed on her body. In order to 
conceive, a woman offers a fowl: "My good krifi, I have 
come to you to-day, I come and ask you to-day to get me 
children ; I give you this fowl for food." The fowl is killed, 
cooked with rice and left in the ate, t tot for a short time ; 
then the sacrificer eats and gives to other members. 

In one atgttQt that I examined I found two tortoise 
shells, two small brooms, a mat, a stick, two whisky bottles, 
and a box containing one basket and a few stones and 
cowries in it. 

Another had feathers of the plantain eater ; sacrifice 
(? satka) was offered to them ; they seem, therefore, to 
represent the krifi. 

Leopard. — When a hunter kills a leopard, a strip of cloth 
is tied round his waist to show that he is a prisoner ; he has 
killed the king's cat, which is masam. When he reaches the 
town he is tied with a strip of country cloth to a post of the 

Grass is tied round the leopard's head and the hunter's 


face : young boys cut whips, and in each town that they 
pass through on their way to the chief there is a 
struggle for the body of the leopard; if the bearers are 
driven off, the winners take possession and carry in their 


When they get in, the chief rewards them ; they say, 
"We have brought the king's meat." Then the boys run 
round the town with whips. The hunter is released and 
looses the grass from the leopard's head; when the body is 
cut up, there is a fight for the meat, which is not shared out 
in the ordinary way. 

In some places, when a leopard is killed, all the people m 
the town beat themselves with banana leaves, because the 
leopard is a warrior. It is said that formerly when a warrior 
died there was swordplay at the funeral. 

The head and skin of the leopard go to the chief. 
A paramount chief is called " leopard," and a leopard is 
one of the totems of the Bangura, Sise, and Kuruma clans. 

Hunters' Traps.— A hunter who wishes to make a trap 
prepares by getting akent and piassava and puts them on 
the rubbish heap for a night ; in the morning he breaks 
cassava and okro leaves and puts with them ground nut 
plants, alligator pepper, chewed spices and camwood, saying 
" When I set a trap, let it kill many animals." 

Okro and cassava are put in a big pot, the piassava coiled 
in it and water poured on and brought to the boil The 
hunter must not sit down but walk round the fire so that the 
animals may be afoot when he sets his net. 

Then the piassava is put on the rubbish heap again and 
sticks a finger thick prepared: finally the piassava is 

twisted. , 

Any animal caught with the trap is skinned on the rubbish 
heap and the water used to wash it is thrown there with the 
blood ; " we put the rope here, we come and give you a 


Susu.-The name by which the krifi are known is yina ; 
bad yina live in the big cotton trees, good yina are under 

Plate A' 

KORANKO IMAGE. See page 39. 



stones ; they receive a sacrifice of rice bread and kola ; every 
five years in October a sheep is offered. The good yina give 
children, rice, etc. 

A yin comes with a strong wind and can knock a man 
down. Only certain people can see them ; a man who sees a 
bad yin goes mad or falls sick : they walk in the big bush at 
midday. They can paralyse a man or make him dumb ; a 
woman who dreams of bad yina becomes sterile ; a yin sets 
fire to a house sometimes. 

To keep away the bad yina, the Koran is washed and the 
water poured on sand, which is scattered round the town. 

A child born with teeth is a yin ; it is carried to the river 
and put in; if it is a yin, it goes down the river in about 
half an hour ; if not, it is a human child, which is buried in 
the river if it dies. A child with a long head is also a yin. 

Koranko. — Carved stone images (Plate V) or heads are not 
uncommon in tins area ; and they seem to be regarded with 
veneration. At Yarawaya is a carved female head with 
closed eyes, standing perhaps some six inches high. 

It is said that twins have spirits behind them and there- 
fore they may not be with people who are reaping or thresh- 
ing rice. One bunch should be cut and put on the road 
leading to the town : the twin takes this and says : " I have 
taken ours ; those who are behind me don't take from the 
farm " ; then the crop is safe. 

Witches appear to be less feared in the farm than malicious 
spirits. Three balls of rice bread are made after reaping ; 
one is put where the rice will be heaped, one on the road to 
the town, and one on a heap of sand ; these are for the 
krifi. Straw and pepper are burnt on the road on the day 
on which they thresh the rice. 

Yalunka.— The word used for krifi is n'inena. 

Loko. — The word for krifi is ns;ofo. 

Limba. — There are various names for God — Kanu (Safroko 
Limba), Masala ( Sella), Masaranka (Tohko) ; but no informa- 
tion was obtained to show the precise position of this deity. 
Ninety-five per cent, of Limbas are said to be pagan, and it 


is significant that the different names mentioned above are in 

Various wali are known. Sokoso shoots people behind 
the shoulder, like Aronson, and to cure the resulting craw- 
craw a leech must take the shot out. TintryomQ is very long, 
with a head like a duck and bells at the end of its tail ; its 
scales are mica. Either this wali catches a man, or the 
man catches him, according to which has the better eyes ; and 
its captor becomes rich. 

Stones are kept in boxes and people cook for them ; they 
say they take them that they may get good crops. When- 
ever they see a nice-looking stone, they take it. None of 
these stones were shown to me ; but if the account is correct, 
we have here a practice not very remote from that which is 
commonly called fetishism. 

One way of procuring rain is to throw water on a wali. 

Only witches can appear as ghosts ; if others appear it is 
" only a dream " ; they come to ask for sacrifice. They live in 
kat'iQ, which must be in the ground, for the bodies are put 

Plate VI. 





In dealing with the subject of the krifi (p. 33) it was 
mentioned that there was no clear line of demarcation 
between the non-human and the human spirit. It is quite 
possible that there has been a certain amount of transference 
from one category to another ; thus, we have seen that the 
tambara antQf (p. 34) live in big trees ; at Makuta a heap 
of stones under a cotton tree was known as masar ma 
ambaki (the stones of the old people), and sacrifices were 
offered there. This is allied to the cult of ancestors by 
the name ambaki, and we may suspect genetic relations. 
Possibly as the site of the town has been changed, a new 
boromasar was founded, so that two existed, one old, the 
other new, until the nature of the old one was forgotten. 

The ritual of ancestor-worship differs slightly in various 
places, but the variations are unimportant. A small hut is 
to be seen near the outskirts of most villages, in which are 
collected a number of stones and occasionally other objects ; 
these stones represent the dead people of the village, and one 
is added at each death (of an " old man " ). In some cases 
men and women are represented in the boromasar, in others 
the women have their own place ; commonly, however, it is 
said that a woman has no town, only a country ; for where 
she marries, there is her home. 

In sacrificing to these ancestors, which is clone about 
hoeing time, it is usual in some places to announce on the 
eve of the sacrifice, " We will give you rice in the morning ; " 
the cooking is done in the open space about 7.0 a.m., and the 
head man takes a handful from each pot or basin and puts 
on the stones. This is the only regular sacrifice, but a 
diviner may order one at another time. 


Elsewhere a sheep is sacrificed by a moriman; all gather 
and lay their hands on it ; the sheep is cooked for all together 
and not shared out, but eaten from one common pot with rice 
and palm oil ; rice, palm oil, and the liver are offered on the 
stones. Both men and women take part in the meal. 

Fur the worship of parents the ritual is equally simple ; 
stones represent the dead, and an old man is called to bgrnpa 
with fowl and rice. <: I want you to give my father food 
from that stone ; he gets food from that stone ; so that we 
may live well." 

It is also possible to call old people together, who touch 
the bread and pray for long life for the sacrifice!" ; some of 
the bread is given to the children ; the portion offered is put 
in the middle of the yard, not on the grave, which is usually 
on the outskirts of the town, and frecpuently marked with a 

When a fowl as well as rice is to be offered, an old man 
goes 10 the grave and is told that the son wishes to sacrifice, 
and that if the fowl eats, it is a sign that the ancestor will 
accept it. The fowl's throat is cut, and the wife cooks rice 
and fowl ; a cup has been placed on the grave and this is 
filled with rice ; a portion of fowl is also given ; the old 
man eats with the sou ; he may not receive any payment : it 
is masam ; at most he may get a head of tobacco. He talks 
to the dead ancestor and the latter then asks blessings for the 

In Mohammedan areas the sacrifice is on a Friday ; and 
sons and daughters take it in turns to provide and cook, but 
it is always the eldest son who offers. It is obligatory on 
the children to attend. The usual date for the sacrifice is 
September or October ; in March a sacrifice may be offered 
to a brother or sister. 

A mother hands on her stone to her eldest daughter, who 
takes it to her husband's house ; her brother is informed and 
gives a fowl to bginpa. Other daughters visit the eldest 
daughter at the time of sacrifice ; and at the death of the 
eldest the second daughter takes her place. The second 

i'l.ATE VII. 


<»• m\ *oi 




daughter may, however, get a stone of her own ; in that case 
fowls and rice must be offered to both stones, and a state- 
ment made to the ancestor. Alternatively the second 
daughter may get the krifi of her father' s mother, for all 
married women have one of some sort. There is some reason 
to suppose that the senior in the family takes charge of the 
important krifi, that is to say, that if a woman has sisters 
and daughters, her sisters take precedence in the matter. 

In Mohammedan areas they sacrifice to the mother on the 
Monday following the sacrifice to the father. Both sacrifices 
must be offered or the dead people will " take " the 

A man who is a stranger in a town cannot offer tu his 
parents who died far away, for the dead people of the town 
would take all his offering ; hence he goes outside ; the dead 
will just take their bread and go ; after this he need not fear 
that they will humbug him. 

If, however, they have annoyed him, he takes a broken 
calabash, a stone, and some dirty rice with pepper in it, as a 
fitting offering; he tells his relatives that they are bad, and 
therefore get bad things : " you don't want good for me, and 
I don't want good for you." 

It is, however, not only dead relatives, but dead men in 
general, that may trouble the living ; if a man finds himself 
annoyed in this way, he takes a stone and lays his hands on 
it before giving it to the dead man. Outside some villages it 
is possible to see a broken calabash (Plate VII) or pot lying 
on a stone as an offering to the dead to prevent them from 
following people home. Or a traveller may take some leaves 
and put a stone on the top in the path, that bad "ghosts " 
may not come after him, and make his journey unsuccessful. 

If a man sneezes during a meal, he says the dead people 
are begging, and takes food in his right hand ; this he throws 
on the ground with his hand behind him, and says : 
'' Xambaki, kolini ananu " (old people, here is yours). 

Mohammedan teaching has naturally had great influence 
on beliefs with regard to a future life. Whether for this 


reason or some other, no trace of any belief as to reincarna- 
tion is to be found, though this is a normal feature of negro 
eschatology, either in the form of the reappearance of a dead 
person who is recognisable in one of his descendants or 
connexions, or in some vaguer form. 

At the present day it is commonly stated that at death a 
bad man goes to Yehenama (Yehanum) ; and among bad men 
are included greedy men, robbers, liars, slanderers, the 
envious, those who do not want to help anyone, those who 
always " think bad about God," obstinate debtors and those 
who refuse to lend money. They will remain in Yehenama 
for an uncertain length of time, but eventually receive 
forgiveness ; others think they may stay there for ever ; at 
any rate they will not die again. 

Heaven is a " clean " place where there is neither work 
nor sleep nor sun nor darkness ; whatever a man wants, he 
finds it at hand. 

A less sophisticated conception was that Eokrifi (the place 
of the dead) was in the air but not with God ; when a man 
died God put " a little darkness " between living and 

A belief in apparitions is found, but holds but an unimpor- 
tant place in native ideas, as does also the belief in dreams 
(see p. 86). On several occasions stories were told of 
people who were seen some years after death ; in one case a 
woman said she was weeding in a farm and saw the figure of 
a woman known to her who had died two years before ; the 
apparition raised its head and vanished as soon as it saw the 
woman looking. 

In another case a dead man was said to have been seen 
washing in the river close to where his body had been laid 
by the bearers during a brief halt. Another informant pro- 
fessed to have seen a dead man in his grave trappings. 

One informant told me of a case in which a dead man is 
said to have communicated knowledge of the position of 
some cutlasses to his brother. The dead man had hidden all 
his cutlasses and his axe behind a large stone in the field and 


told no one; he was killed in the war and the night after his 
death had been announced, when they were lamenting his 
death, his brother saw him in a dream and was shown where 
the cutlasses were hidden. 

It is firmly believed that some people die and reappear at 
a place some distance away, where they live a normal life, 
but vanish if any of their original friends approach them. 
Their eyes are said to be turned back. This living again is 
called falah. 



Witchcraft appears to occupy an important place in native 
beliefs; the witch is said to have power to take rice or 
transfer it from one farm to another ; hence all sorts of rites 
are performed to exclude them from the farms ; these 
ceremonies are known as e,kap in Sanda, akanta (see p. 60) 
in S. Timne. The witch is also believed to eat human beings, 
who go on living and breathing till the heart is reached ; then 
they die. This killing is said to be done with the eyes only. 

Side by side with this belief is found the more ordinary 
creed which attributes to the witch power of transformation, 
into a bat or crocodile ; if the animal perishes, the witch meets 
the same fate. 

A witch is said to be born, not made, and to derive power 
from the mother, because the mother eats a person and the 
unborn child absorbs some of the cannibal feast. A witch 
has akonto inside him ; this is like the stomach of a small 
animal, round in shape, with many holes in it. 

"Medicines" and ordeals are used to catch suspected 
witches ; in the former case the guilty person falls sick and 
confesses ; in this case water may be poured on the 
" medicine " to free the witch from its influence. Some 
people say, however, that confession will not save a witch. 

If a person is bewitched but does not die, he " swears " 
and the witch dies ; in this case a ceremony must be 
performed and if it is not completed, a stone with thread 
round it, and a piece of cloth, must be put in a tree, and the 
name of the witch repeated : " You cannot move again to 
injure me." This ceremony is apparently performed after 
the death of witches, to prevent them from continuing their 
activities after death. Another method is to rub leaves on 
people that the dead witch may not follow them and cause 


them to fall sick; the same medicine is sprinkled on the 

Some witches offer to krifi, that the medicine may not 
catch them, but now people "swear krifi on the medicine," 
i.e., tell the medicine to catch the krifi, for it is stronger 
than the krifi, then the krifi takes his medicine and throws 
it on the witch, who will die even in spite of confession. 
Just as in Europe in the seventeenth century, it appears to be 
exceedingly common for witches to confess to killing people, 
spoiling farms and other crimes. For obvious reasons, however, 
unless such a confession is made under circumstances that 
permit of cross-examination — and this would be altogether 
exceptional — -it is impossible to discover how far the witch 
is self -deceived. 

When an " oath medicine " was to be used, kola, salt, etc., 
in fact all things that they eat, were put in a cooking pot' 
near the " medicine " ; a fowl was also brought and beaten 
till it died, all present repeating, " If I am a witch, let me die." 
After this the witch would fall sick if he ate fowl. The 
killing of the fowl was not regarded as a satka; but all had 
to partake of it, hence the ceremony is from one point of view 
rather an ordeal than a trial by " medicine." When the witch 
confessed, the "medicine" was brought and the "oath" 
removed. The house of the person who had been bewitched 
was put in charge of the repentant witch, who was supposed 
to keep other witches at bay. 

Another ceremony was to load a gun and put it down 
with the " medicine." After all had " sworn " on the 
medicine, i.e. cursed themselves if they were guilty, the head 
man of the house fired the gun at the medicine and thus the 
witch would be detected quickly. 

Another method of detecting a witch was to drop a 
decoction of ambare bark in a fowl's eyes, saying: " If he 
is a witch, let him become blind." This method is obviously 
closely related to the one mentioned above, but in the 
present case the fowl seems to be taken as the representative 
of the witch. If that is also the case where the fowl is beaten 


to death, the subsequent ritual eating must be an intrusive 
element, due to the resemblance of the rite to a piacular 

For the ordeal some decoction is commonly drunk ; this 
may be of akon bark, beaten and shaken till it froths. A 
platform is made, and the accused, with palm leaves tied 
round the waist, mounts it ; rice, known as abonp (= gold) 
is half cooked and must be swallowed without chewing ; 
then the accuser recites the crimes attributed to the person 
undergoing the ordeal, saying : " If it is not so, let us find 
out ; when you drink, vomit, if you are not a member." The 
accused person drinks six calabashes of the decoction and 
swells up, if he is guilty. 

Another account said the accuser was known as ukapepe, 
and that he drank as well as the supposed witch, each taking 
it in turn, till all was finished. 

An innocent person was taken to the water-side and 
washed. It was laid down that for a man who came from 
the west a platform had to be made on the east road, and for 
a man who came from the east, on the west road ; an accused 
usually demanded to be put to the proof. 

Another ordeal involved the use of a bare bark which 
was scraped and put in a leaf funnel. Accused and accusers 
were shut up in the house and all concerned had to practise 

In the morning the accuser spoke out behind the house, 
and the decoction was trickled into the eye of the witch, 
causing him to become blind ; it was also dropped on the tips 
of the fingers, and the joints. After being shut up in the 
house the witch cried out and confessed ; an antidote was 
dropped in the eye and the sight restored. 

Even if twenty people were under trial, one and the same 
funnel had to be used for all. 

An innocent man received one head of money, £4, as 
compensation, together with " expenses." The guilty person 
had to pay compensation for any person he had killed, either 
by money payment or transfer of property. 


It is said that long ago witches were burnt, or tied up and 
thrown into the water. A witch is buried naked, and the 
body may be given to the owner of the medicine that killed 
him or her. Other people dig the grave and go away. If a 
cloth were used, the witch might return and trouble the 
family. It is always said that ordinary people do not 
return though witches do. 

A witch is tied on a stick for burial and carried like an 
animal. Some people divine with a pestle on which hair and 
nails are tied ; others use the dead body itself. When the 
bearers have hoisted it on their shoulders, they say : " As 
you were living, what you said, is it true ?" That is to say, 
they ask if the confession made in the man's life-time was 
true. If the dead man was not a witch, the body swings 
from side to side ; if he was a witch, the bearers go and 
knock against some person ; but this does not mean that the 
person in question was in any way implicated. 

Sometimes more elaborate methods are employed ; sticks 
are cut and made like a bier, and toe and finger nails and 
hair are tied on them wrapped in a mat, doubtless to represent 
the body, with a white cloth on the top ; the bearers dress in 
white and carry e,tap in their hands; one has a sword. 
They say, " Let her go out," and shake the leaves they are 
carrying. Ashes are put in a circle round them with a fire- 
stick in the middle ; if the leader, when the bearers begin to 
march, steps clean out of the circle with his first foot, the 
dead woman is acquitted; " she died of good" ; otherwise she 
is pronounced a witch. 

Then they halt and say, " Go and compliment the old 
people " ; when they reach Rokambana, they halt, and also 
leave the bier against the blacksmith's forge, for if the 
woman were a witch, she could not go there. Then the old 
men asked : " Was it your oil that went in your eyes ? " 
(i.e., did your wickedness kill you ?) If she was a witch, the 
bier will run with the people and strike against some one of 
those who asked the question. If she was not a witch, the 
bearers' heads will move and one of them will say she was 



uot a witch. A second time they ask, "' Is it God alone that 
took you?" The bier will take the bearers witli it and 
strike the questioner, who will pronounce the woman a 
witch. Then the " big people " tell her to show who is to 
take care of her children, and she designates someone by 
means of the bier. 

A stone is often seen in the fork of a tree close to a 
village ; this is said in some places to be a satka for witches, 
probably to prevent them from entering the village. Near a 
circumcision bush such a stone is a satka for the boys. 

This stone is sometimes wrapped with thread and then in 
a piece of cloth. It is put up by a person who has been 
bewitched without being killed and has then killed the 
witch with " medicine." A ceremony, of which I got no 
details, has to be performed if a man is thus killed ; if the 
ceremony is not performed, the stone is put in the fork of 
the tree with the words : " You cannot move again to injure 

Possibly the ceremony referred to was to try the witch 
naked, as the protection conferred by the rite just described 
would not be required if the witch were then buried. 

Susu. — Witches (kweremexi) are born, not initiated; 
they put inside a man's house " medicine " in a pot, consisting 
of rice, ground nut, sesame and fundi, which is buried inside 
the door and causes him to get bad crops. 

A witch can live in a crocodile or leopard and seize people ; 
four or five go into one animal and if the animal is shot, they 
die too. 

Morimen make medicines (karafili) against witches and 
put them in horns. A " prayer board " may be washed, and 
if the water is mixed with the rice, a witch who eats of it 
will swell up and die. 

An ordeal for testing witches was for them to drink a 
decoction of meli. A guilty person might be burnt; an 
innocent man received the property of his accuser and all 
members of his family as slaves. 

A rope was tied to the foot of a dead witch and the body 


was dragged to the field to be eaten by birds. If the corpse 
was buried, no sticks were put over it and the ground was 
beaten hard. 

Limba. — Witches (bawgti) " kill " men when they sleep ; 
when they wake, they say they are " killed." A witch takes 
off witchcraft like a gown. 

A witch is buried in banana leaves and thorns above 
and below so that he cannot come again as momQpila 
(ghost), which wears a white gown and stands in the door 
without being seen. All people wake at once and tremble 
and feel cold, any rice that is being cooked stops boiling, all 
fires go out. A hole is found in the grave of a mQinQpila 
out of which it comes ; a diviner watches for it and shoots 
it ; he alone can see it but other people see blood. 

To see if a person is a witch bare is put in his eye, which 
bursts if he is guilty. A witch would not be sold by his own 
family, but only compelled to work. 

"Witches are born or can buy their powers ; they turn into 
animals at night. 

Karn^ti (Limba, Qingti) is brazed and scattered over a 
farm, as if it w T ere seed, to keep witches away. Iron slag 
(nagara) is all efficacious. 

e 2 




Under the name of satka are known a variety of rites, 
some involving the actual killing of an animal, others the 
letting it go as a scapegoat or keeping it in the yard as a 
sacrosanct animal ; in others vegetable oblations are made ; 
others again consist in the blessing and gift of clothes, or in 
a similar ritual followed by the wearing of them by the 
sacrificer, who is also the officiant. In other cases the 
offering is simply exposed, or brought in contact with some 
object with " virtue " in it ; and in yet others, protective 
against witches, there is no offering at all, the charm being 
put down in the farm in precisely the same way as in 
ordinary magical rites, save that the name of God — 
Kurumasaba — is called on. Finally there are ceremonies 
known as satka which, if we had no information about them 
beyond a simple description, would be regarded as rites of 
sympathetic or mimetic magic. 

The sympathetic rites are comparatively few and hardly 
typical ; thus we find bread rubbed on a cutlass before 
farming operations, so that children may not wound 
themselves ; a gown which a man has worn is put upon an 
anthill after a satka to secure good health for him. 

The mimetic rites, on the other hand, are a large and 
important body of ceremonies, which have, we may suppose, 
been drawn into the satka complex under Mohammedan 
influence, which naturally desired to control as far as possible 
heathen ritual, while on the other hand Mohammedan rites 
were doubtless regarded as very efficacious even by those 
who professed heathenism ; finally the half-converted heathen 


would naturally make such heathen rites as he retained 
conform to the Mohammedan form. 

Chief among mimetic rites may be mentioned the custom 
of hanging up a fan which swings in the breeze and is 
believed to be efficacious in blowing away evil influences. 
Water is brought and burning grass from each house is 
quenched, in order that fire may not break out. Iron is 
buried under the threshold in order that what is said by the 
household may be weighty. Hooked sticks are fastened one 
in another in order that unity may prevail. Under this head, 
too, may possibly be classed the various obstacles (Plate YII) 
which are put at the entrance to a farm or under the threshold 
of a house to keep away witches, bad krifi, and evil-disposed 
persons and influences ; or the similar rites intended to keep 
people from leaving a town or a house. Outside a towm is 
often seen a faggot of a hundred haulms of elephant grass 
tied in a bundle with red cloth ; this is sacrificed that 
danger may not come ; but the explanation is not clear. 

In the farm " small things," such as rice husks and other 
rubbish, are put in a fish trap and hung high up, that the 
rice may stand high. A pot may be broken as a sacrifice for 
the house, that bad people may be " broken " in like manner. 
A blacksmith may make a straight knife for a sacrificer, that 
work and all other things may be " straight." A broom may 
be hung over the door that the house may be " clean " and no 
bad sickness come in it. 

In all these cases perhaps there is at least a semblance of 
a sacrifice or offering; but in the satka against snakes a 
piece of bush rope is dragged along the ground and beaten by 
children or cut to pieces by a man ; the oral rite accompanies 
it, but there is no touching of hands. 

In a typical satka the victim or object lies upon the 
ground and all participants put their hands upon it, or, if 
they cannot get near, stretch their hands towards it, praying 
audibly for the blessing for which the " sacrifice " is 
offered. The sacrificer himself may of course be the sole 


The term "sacrifice" as a translation for satka (Arabic 
(djjus) ^ s an obvious misnomer. It is of the essence 
of a sacrifice that something should be consumed, and this 
element is far from being present in all satka — in fact, 
some of the rites consist, not in offering or consuming the 
object, but in retaining it and using it — e.g., a cap, in the 
ordinary way. 

One singular rite deserves special mention, as it differs 
widely from the ordinary satka, and we seem to be coming 
near a visible representation of the recipient of the satka, 
though, singularly enough, nothing is offered, and a living 
man, though not the sacrificer himself, is represented. 

A short pole is hung on a tree by a cord and beaten every 
morning with ekati ; it represents the son of the sacrificer 
when he has gone to Freetown or elsewhere to work. The 
father addresses it, saying : " If my son does not sit on a 
stick in the place where he is, let him not return ; if he sits 
on a stick, let him return." As people everywhere sit down, 
this is equivalent to a prayer for his return. The object of 
the beating with ekati was not known. 

Here only the oral rite remained, and the ceremony could 
not even be called an offering. In the ordinary satka also 
the oral rite is probably far more important than the manual 
rite, and the following may be taken as an example of the 
form used ; it is employed at the crowning of a chief : " I 
have come this morning to sacrifice, as I have been crowned ; 
may God send me good strangers ; may I be able to make 
my people fear, so that there may be no crime in the 
country ; my people must get good crops and their children 
live long ; if any witch wants to ' spoil' my crown, may he 
die soon, so that I may not see a man who disobeys me, and 
that all my old ancestors may stand behind me ; that I may 
rule well and have no trouble. 1 hope I may not be dis- 
graced in any place. That is all." 

In the oral rite we have, in fact, the sole element of unity 
in the heterogeneous satka rites. They cannot then be 
adequately classified either from the point of view of the 


form of the manual rite nor of the ohject to be attained, save 
in the most general way. It may, however, be observed 
that, though these objects may be positive, such as causing a 
person in the house to be of weight in the councils of the 
community, the aim is far more often the averting of evil, 
such as a violent death, injury to the crops, damage by fire, 
and so on. It is clear that many sacrifices, such as those for 
long life, prosperity, and health, though apparently positive, 
are in reality negative, and are intended to effect their object 
by averting the evil influences which hinder the good fortune 
or threaten the life of the sacrificer. 

A certain number of sacrifices appear to depend for their 
efficacy on secondary oral rites over and above those of the 
satka proper. If a child, for example, is sick, rice may be 
sacrificed for it, and given to a passing stranger or some old 
person. The meaning of the gift is not, as might be sur- 
mised, that the sickness of the child is to be transferred to 
the stranger or old person ; on the contrary, the cure, in 
some cases, is said to depend on the prayers offered by the 
recipient of the rice or other object sacrificed. 

On the other hand, when a rich man wishes to " sacrifice " 
a print gown, he must wear it for several days and then per- 
form the rite after laying it on an anthill. Here the gown 
is first of all brought into intimate association with the 
sacrificer, and the validity of the sacrifice is enhanced by the 
choice of an anthill as the scene of the rite, for the krifi are 
believed to have their abode in anthills ; at any rate, the 
anthill being a frequent object in magical rites, it seems 
clear that some virtue is believed to go out of it into the 
garment, and thus indirectly benefit the man who has worn 
the garment. 

We find an entirely different class of ideas in the renuncia- 
tion satka, in which a person gives up his most cherished 
possession in order to obtain a wish. The idea is hardly 
reconcilable with that of the efficacy of the oral rite, and it 
may well be that the oral rite by which it is accompanied is 
a later accretion, due to Mohammedan influence. 


As a general rule the gift idea of sacrifice is seldom found : 
offeriugs to ancestors are, of course, an exception ; and there 
is a kind of sham gift — a stone or bad rice — that is offered to 
a dead person who troubles a man (Plate VII). In some 
places, probably under Mohammedan influence, an offering 
of bread is made to Kurmnasaba on the spot where the 
calabash stood in which the bread was made ; and Kurmn- 
asaba and the "good krifi" are the recipients of a bread 
offering put in the bush near the farm. 

The manual rite (see p. 53) appears to be exceedingly 
simple ; in none of the sacrifices at which I was present was 
there any trace of any preparation of either tbe victim, the 
sacrificer, or the participators. Corresponding to this sim- 
plicity and confirming the observation is the fact that the 
victim is not masem — sacrosanct; the bones are simply 
thrown away. An animal may be specially reserved to be 
kept about the house, but this does not seem to imply any 
special sanctity ; the idea is more akin to sympathetic magic, 
for in the case of a fowl satka for the long life of a new- 
born child the fowl is kept about the house until it gets old ; 
then another one is selected, and the substitution made by 
placing the young fowl on the top of the child's head. In 
the same way, if a sheep satka is made for the house, it 
is killed (not sacrificed) when it is old and replaced l»y 

There may, of course, be a subsidiary idea that, the sacri- 
fice having been made to Kurumasaba, the continued pres- 
ence of the animal acts as a continual reminder of the prayer 
that has been made, and the same holds good in the case of 
garments that are worn after the satka. But of this I saw 
no evidence, and no informant made any suggestion bearing 
on the point. 

There is an apparent exception to the rule that the victim 
is not sacrosanct, for when a goat is sacrificed at the founda- 
tion of a new town, the flesh is eaten, but the skin, head, and 
feet are buried in the middle of the town, " that the town 
may he steady." Here again, however, the possibility cannot 


be rejected that the root idea is now one of sympathetic 

In the case of a victim, when the animal's throat has been 
cut, water is sometimes used to wash the blood from the 
throat ; but as the blood is commonly allowed to run on the 
ground, without any attempt at collecting it, and no special 
place is allotted for this outpouring of blood, the washing of 
the throat does not seem to bear any special significance. 

In the case of offerings to ancestors and to krifi, there is 
some trace of the communal meal, though it is often limited 
to the rice bread ; occasionally a portion of the animal, such 
as the liver, is devoted entirely to the recipient of the 

It is only very rarely that this offering is made to Kuruma- 
saba also., and in no case is an offering made to him alone. 
Possibly we may see in this evidence that the position of 
Kuru, or, at any rate, the appeal to him in the oral rite, is 
the result of Mohammedan influence. 

It has been shown on another page that wanka and 
mas am are not clearly distinguished. One informant also 
regarded the satka as not only protective in the sense of 
warding off evil, but actually punitive. A sacrifice may be 
offered for the cattle if leopards hairy them. A cow is killed, 
and all eat of the fiesh ; a bad man who tries to injure them 
will be " caught " by the satka, and his belly will swell. He 
must then apply to the mo, rim an who buried the first charms 
in the compound where the sacrifice was made. He brings 
" books," water, and kola, and divines with the kola; if both 
halves are " open," water is thrown on the ground, a charm 
(sebe) is hung on the neck of the sufferer, and one is given 
him to drink by writing words on a " prayer board," washing 
them off and giving him the liquid as a draught. 

In a certain number of cases the satka resembles, at any 
rate outwardly, a rite of transference of evil. If sickness is 
frequent, all pray on a stone, and it is put in the fork of a 
tree ; if a man is summoned by his chief, a fowl is put on his 
head ; all pray on it, and it is released. If the coining of 


war is feared, a spotted fowl is " sacrificed " and released far 
from the town. 

Susu. — The same fundamental idea of sacrifice (se.raxe) 
is found in this tribe, but certain special features call for 

The sacrifice against witches, etc., is a banana stem planted 
outside the town ; this was found in the Timne area as a 
satka against falling from a palm-tree. All men of the 
town take part and pray that the witches may die; finally, 
arrows are fired from toy bows and strips of cloth tied to the 
stem. The rite is not an annual one, but is practised only in 
certain years. 

The colour of the victim is of more importance than in the 
Timne area, where a black fowl figures only in a sacrifice for 
rain. A black fowl is sacrificed on the first day of work in 
the farm, that workers may neither fall sick nor wound 
themselves. A white fowl is kept in a compound against 
bad yinna, and every Friday all the people in the house 
touch the fowl and pray for peace. When it thunders, a red 
cock is killed in the middle of the yard, and small children 
eat it with rice ; white cotton is ' : sacrificed " and put round 
the house. A white fowl is sacrificed at seed-time. 

The sacrifice against fire is to plant an old pestle in the 
ground outside the town ; from each house a head pad of 
grass is brought and strung on it. 

Uice bread is sacrificed in the house every Thursday 
evening to the father and mother, and small children eat it 
after an hour. 

Koranko. — The conception of saroko seems to be vaguer 
in this tribe. An empty basin may be covered and small 
children told that there is rice inside. When the lid is 
raised, they cry with disappointment ; then you will not 
suffer from disease and your enemies, contrary to their 
expectations, will find you well. The idea is obviously 
mimetic ; but, in a rite to secure that a climbing rope will 
not break, the opposite idea prevails ; a rope may be knotted 
and cut in two on the road and then the rope actually in use 


is safe. The imitation is there, in a way, but it seems 
equally valid to explain the rite as one of substitution. 

In neither of these cases does there appear to be any oral 
or manual rite. In another case, where a form of words is 
used, the formula suggests a spell rather than a prayer. A 
man who has palaver with the chief puts a stone in the fork 
of a tree and says : " If you move of yourself, let my palaver 
be big ; if you cannot move unless people move you, let it be 
looked upon as a foolish case." 

Some of the farming rites, though not reckoned to the 
sarake, resemble them in form. Grass stems are cut in the 
farm, and sand procured from water near ; then prayer is 
offered that as there is much sand in the water and all 
cannot be removed, so let there be so much rice that all 
cannot be reaped. 

A creeper called ratohk is cut and beaten : then a stick 
Ls split and a piece of the creeper, three inches long, put in 
the split ; two of these sticks are put facing each other at 
the entrance to the farm, so that, as a thing put in its proper 
place cannot move, so the rice cannot go away from the 
farm When the rice is reaped, three small bunches are cut 
and put, one on the sand, one on each of the sticks. 

Loko. — The same vague conception of satka (caga) as 
among the Koranko is occasionally found. Water may be 
boiled and covered with a fan ; when the children come, you 
offer the rice and there is none, they cry ; this saves you 
from shame. 

Generally speaking, however, mimetic rites, or rites which 
may involve the idea of transference or of a scape-animal, 
seem to be prominent. A live fish may be returned to the 
water to protect a man against evil; a gun may be fired with 
prayer, to keep away enemies, or a toad transfixed with a 
knife for the same purpose. An egg may be dashed on the 
ground with prayer, that the backbiters may be scattered. 

When rice is offered to the ngofo (krifi) they eat it, 
although the rice appears to remain where it was put. 

Limba. — The conception of sacrifice (sarak a) seems to be 


Less vague in some respects, but one informant stated that 
they " prayed to the sheep," sacrificed by order of a diviner, 
and then cut its throat. One rite shows the close relation- 
ship between divination and sacrifice, which finds a parallel 
in the similar relation between omen and in a so in among 
the Timne : white and red kola are offered with prayer, and 
then split and thrown, that bad things may not come. From 
the accounts of divination given on other pages it is clear that 
the diviner is regarded, not so much as foretelling already 
predetermined events, as himself deciding what the future 
will be. If the first throw is bad, a second may be tried and 
even a third ; or the conditions may be changed. Among the 
Limba the compelling power of the diviner's act is recognised 
by their inclusion of it among sacrifices. 

Generally speaking the blessing, and mimetic rites, seem 
to be the most important features in sacrifice among the 


There are numerous practices and charms for the 
protection of property against thieves and witches ; charms 
against the former are called wanka, the latter kanta; the 
term kanta is used because the charms are believed to 
" close " the farm against evil influences and thus preserve 
the rice and other crops from harm. The original meaning 
of wanka was not ascertained. 

There is no very obvious line of demarcation between 
these protective magical practices and the satka (" sacrifice "), 
such as fans or suspended pieces of calabash whose object is 
to blow away the " bad breeze," i.e., evil influences, or the 
a l»eni pa, distinguished from the satka by the fact that the 
name of God — Kurumasaba — is not mentioned in connection 
with the latter. 

As a lypical wanka may be taken the apot or medicine 
ball ; this consists of a small roof over a piece of calabash in 
which lies a ball of mud — hence the name — in which are 

Plate VIII. 


stuck small pieces of stick with raw cotton wrapped round 
the ends " to make it look dreadful to the thieves." 

The wanka is put up by anyone who knows how to make 
it ; some men may be able to give details of a dozen different 
kinds, others may not know one. When the wanka apQt 
is put down, the operator chews kola and spits all round the 
calabash — a common feature in other forms of wanka — and 
says : " We put this kola nut down to keep our kola ; if 
anyone steals, let his arm or leg swell." If anyone steals 
and a swelling results, the thief must call in a diviner (omen), 
who will tell him he has been caught by wanka and direct 
him to go to the man who put it up ; he is, of course, not 
necessarily the owner of the kola tree. From this man the 
thief obtains medicine leaves to put on his swelled limb ; 
these leaves are, in many cases, the same as those used in the 
composition of the wanka. 

When the kola is ripe, the maker of the wanka is 
summoned and told to take off the charm. In putting it 
down he has used his right hand, now he uses his left hand 
and removes the calabash and mud ball, saying : " I came 
and put you up ; now I come and take you off." Then the 
owner can harvest his kola. 

Other accounts say that the mud must be boiled, probably 
in order that the affected limb may be hot and painful ; or 
that in boring the holes for the cotton the operator says : 
" Cause sores, therefore I bore holes." In taking off the 
wanka, leaves must be used with the left hand ; and my 
informant thought that only the owner could take the 
wanka off, but that if he died he would hand down to his 
son the knowledge of what leaves to use. There is, however, 
no reason to suppose that he cannot summon another person 
to put down the wanka. 

One informant stated that even if the owner put down the 
wanka, he must perform the wanki ceremony to remove it, 
or he himself would be " caught." 

Under the head of totemism is mentioned the fact (p. 136) 
that some quas i-totemistic tabus are termed wanka; this 


suggests that the leaves, etc., used in making; the wanka 
may, in some cases at least, have been tabued and were 
subsequently taken for use in protective magic ; according to 
one definition a wanka differs from a kanta, in that it is 
put down by people who know how to cure diseases (i.e., 
those caused by the wanka); on this theory the leech 
employed by those who infringed a tabu conceived the idea 
of using the forbidden plant as a charm. It is at least very 
suggestive that for the cure of disease caused by a wanka 
the same kind of leaves must be taken as are used to make 
the wanka. 

As an example may be taken the wanka known as 
amintai; mintais said to mean fearless, but it is not clear 
why this name should be used. At Matoteka, amintai is 
said to " catch " the leg bone and to be caused by cutting the 
leaves of the wanka (i.e., tabu) tree in clearing the bush; 
the leaves of the tree are used as a remedy. 

According to another informant the amintai wanka is 
made of e, sit a leaves tied in a bundle and hung on the tree ; 
kola must be chewed, as for the wanka apot, and the spell 
pronounced. A thief gets a sore on his leg which is called 
amintai. Etol leaves were named by another village, and 
the same leaves mixed with ambaka formed the remedy. 
I was told in one place that anyone who cures rheumatism 
can cure amintai ; but my informant made more than one 
strange statement and was perhaps not wholly reliable ; he 
said, for example, that some krifi (see p. 31) suffer from 
katuk, which seems to be epilepsy, and that anyone who 
follows them along a road will get epilepsy, which lie 
included among wanka. 

At Maka, amintai was said to be a woman's wanka; 
the leaves were to be wrapped in a broken mat and placed 
on a small platform. The suffering thief was to be cured by 
a vapour bath of a decoction of the same leaves. 

There are, however, other wanka which cannot be 
explained, as can amintai, by the utilisation of former tabu 
plants; kalapot (fire stick), for example, seems to be a 


kind of mimetic magic. The operator must hang it up 
by a rope and put a roof over it, repeating the usual charm, 
and declaring that his eye' is to pain him, getting red like 
fire. As a remedy they take e,lap leaves and rub them in 
the hands after warming them ; then they are put in a leaf 
funnel and the juice is dropped in the affected eye. 

Another informant said that kokant should be cut and 
half burned for this wanka, while a third thought it was 
formed of a splinter which caused the head of the thief to 

Another kind of wanka punishes the thief by the object 
used becoming, as it were, tabu to him. Aiibata is a small 
mat and when it " catches " a thief, he cannot lie on a mat, 
but only sit. To cure him, the owner applies the mat to the 
painful spot and says : "Wanka, leave him alone, I know 
who stole." 

The eyebe wanka is in some places a simple tabu 
wanka (see p. 136). Elsewhere it resembles an ordinary 
wanka, but the penalty falls on a woman of the family of 
the thief, or on her child, which suffers from diarrhoea. 
Another informant said that it was a mat and an anthill put 
under an orange tree to protect it ; if a woman sucked an 
orange, her children suffer from diarrhoea, unless they are 
cured by being seated on the wanka; this cannot be done 
till the child is old enough to have its head shaved. Only 
women who have not borne children are liable to be caught ; 
once caught they can go on eating oranges without further 
ill consequences. 

According to one informant, ankokoa is a simple tabu 
wanka and affects a man in the ribs, if he cuts the leaves of 
this tree so that they die on the ground ; a cure is effected 
by a man with red beads. Another account says that this 
wanka is a broken mat, and that as a remedy must be used 
a broken mat reddened with camwood and put on the 
patient's ribs. 

The horn of an animal called ambok, which is also a 
totem, is another tabu wanka; when the animal is killed 


one of the clan that forbids this animal gets the horns and 
uses them to cure sufferers by rubbing them. 

But the idea of tabu is not necessarily present, for the 
name wank a is also applied to kase,re, dry rice, which at 
times causes intestinal troubles when too much is eaten ; the 
remedy is to get e,toma leaves, and drink the decoction as 
a laxative. This wank a is so classed simply because pain 
results from the use of it. A similar wanka is a mat, 
because a man gets pains in his ribs if he lies long on it ; 
children put small mats in a cleft stick and stroke the 

Another application of the term wanka is to the small 
broom called akuso, put up at the entrance to a farm. 
When a man's foot hurts him, the broom is warmed at the 
fire and he puts his foot on it and then throws it away 
outside the town. Here apparently there is no question of 
the broom having caused the disease and the remedy is of the 
nature of transference of disease. 



" Causes." 


asar ... 

(1) a stone with sticks 

jaw and 

in front and behind. 

arm pains. 

(2) stone wrapped in 


(3) stone in split stick 


akal ... 

leaves in a " hamper" 



broken calabash hung 


gpur pur decoction. 

on tree. 



snail shell on kola 

jaw pains 

§ d u m a leaves ground 


and rubbed on ; de- 


coction of old leaves 

to wash mouth. 

koparanta ... 

palm mid - rib and 

pain in 

outer bark with 


splinter passed 



crossed sticks. 


cow bone hung on 


kind of palm with 
"thorns," medicine 
on it. 




" Causes." 


ka ynn 




palm nuts 

eve pains 

decoction of palm 

(1) in broken calabash 


nut and leaves. 

(2) in cleft stick. 


(1) ankonta bark ... 

(2) seed. 

jaw pain. 


a n k n t a seed in split 


bark decoction to 



wash mouth. 


"stick for sitting 
down " antolo leaf 
tied on. 

ankompia ... 

seed of ankompia 


hung on tree 

of boils. 


cowries hung on tree 

eye pains. 


seed of a n k o n k o r o, t 


near tree. 



looped palm leaves ... 

s on 

asamtatak ... 

is in pot... 


decoction to drink. 

at is ... 

knife under tree 

pain in 

split wood and put 


on ribs. 


" things" in mat 

1 '1 1(1 V 

leaves for vapour 




palm mid-iib cross- 

pain in 

nil) wanka on side. 

tied with hi ire. 



pot, red base with 

red marks 

leaves burned to 

white spots. 

ashes rubbed on. 


leaf of boforoko in 

pain in 

chew akam and rub 

split stick. 




fori leaf tied on 

eye pain 

vapour bath. 

kasam kaloko 

palm leaves knotted 

pain in 

three times. 



"like tree." 

death of 

(see p. 188). 


ekqnton leaves tied 
with thread on three 

( [ysentery 

juice of leaves. 


palm mid-rib cleft, 
with thorns from 
bush yams and mid- 
rib passed through. 


(a) native ladder"] 

(b) tortoise shell | 

(c) kalolum 

('/) chewed kola j 
(>') stone 




"( lauses." 



plaited palm leaf 


dip plaited palm leaf 

to drink 

in decoction of cer- 


tain leaves and rub 
on throat. 


young palm leaves 


amfikan bark from 



east and west sides 


of tree whose top 


was broken off be- 
fore leaves came out. 
Wooden basin of 
decoction on rubbish 
heap, bambu across 
it ; dip child in it. 

antibi-tibi ... 

(1) unbroken calabash 

(1) many 

(1) decoction of mala- 

bored, and cotton 


nsumatakr leaves 

inserted in holes ; 

(2) chancre 

as wash ; and young 

set up in farm. 

leaves of akant 

(2) bush rope. 

mashed and applied. 
(2) decoction as wash; 
a pi 1 leaves and bark 
boiled; sores washed 
with water and 
" cream " applied. 


"ogusi " seed 

sores on 


loss of 


small leaves tied like 

pain in 

comb, and split kola 



katap and kalolum 

jaw pain 

vapour bath. 

With the exception of antibitibi all the foregoing appear 
to be tabu wank a. The action seems to be regarded as 
automatic, for one informant said that if a wanka found a 
stolen object near a man's house, it might " catch " him by 
mistake ; or a wanka may catch a weak man who passes near 
it, even if he is not a thief ; or it may catch a man who puts 
his foot upon a stolen object. 

It is difficult to say how far there is an animistic implica- 
tion in this. 

In this connection it is worthy of note that a " sacrifice" is 
offered to a wanka when it is put down ; and that one way 


of curing pains caused by it is to spit chewed kola both on 
the wank a and on the part affected. 

Exceptionally the term wanka is used of the tabu put by 
the chief upon the palm nuts and other fruits until they are 
ripe. There does not appear to be any ceremony or material 
evidence of the wanka; but this application of the word is 
clearly not very remote from the primary one, in which so 
much depends upon the spoken word. A breach of this 
wanka may lie punished by a fine of £4. The measure is of 
obvious utility as a guarantee against theft. 

Koranko. Wanka (laroh). — The automatic conception of 
the protective rite is seen in the belief that if a spider's web 
passes through the laroh and touches a man, he will be 
"caught," even if he is not a thief. 

Yalunka. — The name for wanka is sugure. 

Loko. Wanka (ha). — A number of protective rites are 
known, all of which seem to have Tinme names, and are, 
therefore, derived on one side or the other. 


The difference between kanta and wanka was explained 
by one informant to lie in the fact that the kanta was put 
down by diviners, the wanka by people who knew how to 
cure diseases. Generally speaking, the kanta appears to be 
" medicine " put at the entrance of a farm to keep away 
krifi and witches. 

The kanta are also known as bempa, which are frequently, 
in some forms at least, undistinguishable from satka, but are 
recognisable by the fact that the name of God — Kurumasaba 
— is not pronounced in making the bempa. 

In many cases a " gate " is put up at the entrance ; this 
may be a mat with an ant-heap inside hung from two sticks. 
Water is thrown on the medicine when the witch confesses 
and its effect ceases. 

Another form is a bottle sunk in the ground at the entrance 
to a farm. 

F 2 


'When they want to hoe, a fowl and rice are offered to a 
pot in the farm, which a diviner puts np for good crops with 
thread and leaves (or hark) inside and a roof over it ; in offer- 
ing the fowl they say they wish that they may get good crops 
and that no one may he hurt; a handful of hoiled rice is put 
near the pot and the rest of the rice eaten with the fowl. 

The same ritual is used when krifi are declared hy the 
diviner to he near. 

Near the entrance to the farm a log with a small stick 
hooked into it, or two hooked sticks, are put down for good 
crops ; they are explained as "being good to keep away witches. 
Another method is to get medicine and "swear" and get 
angry in the farm. 

Another Item pa is a rod with seven small sticks tied on 
the top ; ashes are strewn before it and a bottle planted ; the 
small sticks have a ball of thread or cotton tied on the top of 

Bush rope (akap) is sometimes tied in a bundle and buried 
at the entrance of the farm ; or a pestle with two head pods 
strung on it is fastened across the path with two sticks. 

Alter hoeing the farm a fan may be hung from a stick ; the 
farmer puts it on the stone in the middle of the farm (p. 174) 
and puts his hands on it, saying, " I come and sacrifice that I 
may have plenty of rice." The stick on which it is hung is 
put near the stone and the fan keeps away bad things and 



Under the head of mas am — forbidden — are grouped a 
large number of beliefs and practices which have, for our 
ideas, no very clear bond of union. They are, however, very 
definitely distinguished from the simply "bad" in some 
cases, and must consequently be regarded as ritual in their 
nature with an underlying magico-religious idea. It is, how- 
ever, somewhat singular that no idea of mas am is said to 
attach either to a corpse, provided it is that of an ordinary 
person, not a member of a secret society, or to a victim after 
sacrifice ; the fundamental idea must therefore be widely 
different from those which are familiar to us in Semitic and 
other ancient religious systems. 

Another anomalous feature is that though a piacular sacri- 
fice is sometimes enjoined when a breach of masam takes 
place, in other cases no purification is regarded as possible ; 
in yet other cases no evil consequences of any sort are feared, 
and hence no piacalv.ui is needed ; and in others again the 
guilty party purges himself by a fine paid to the chief. 

But more remarkable than either of these anomalies is the 
fact that under mas am are included acts which seem to be 
forbidden as contrary to ordinary prudence. Thus, it is 
mas am to treat parents-in-law disrespectfully, for they would 
take away the wife. Again, two brothers of the whole blood 
should not embark in one canoe ; for if it upset, both would 
be drowned ; a man should not take with him in one canoe 
both his wife and his mother ; for if he saved his mother, his 
wife's parents would object, and if he saved his wife, his 
mother would curse him, thus introducing, it is true, a con- 
tingent magico-religious element. In another case theft was 
said to be mas am, because if a man stole, the wife's family 


would take away Loth her and her children ; here the magico- 
religious element was less remote, for it was stated that they 
would be taken away to escape the effects of the curse that 
would " catch " the thief ; even here, however, the magico- 
religious sanction was not regarded as acting directly. 

Another masani which seems to be clearly referable to 
utilitarian grounds is the prohibition of killing a gravid 
animal — cow or goat — but it seems improbable that the utili- 
tarian element was here the reason for the prohibition ; con- 
siderations of profit alone, with no possible religious factor — 
for respect for the life of lower animals is not found in West 
Africa, either as an indigenous or an imported feature — could 
well have suggested the practice, but not its religio- magical 
basis ; perhaps we may see in it, however, an element intro- 
duced, possibly with the cow, by Arabic, or at any rate 
Mohammedan, influence. 

In none of the examples cited above has there been any- 
thing specially sacred about the persons or animals affected 
by the breach of the mas am. The case is different in certain 
prohibitions concerning actions affecting the chief, who is 
mas am before crowning, and observes all his life long a 
number of prohibitions not enjoined on the layman. Among 
the rules laid down to regulate the behaviour of the ordinary 
individual to the chief are that he must not shake hands 
holding in his hand a knife, or a fowl, or a rope tied round 
the neck of a cow. In this last case the grounds of the 
prohibition are the more uncertain ; for it is also forbidden to 
lead a cow through a village without informing the head man, 
on some obscure ground connected with ancestor worship ; at 
any rate, if a cow is so led, two heads of tobacco must be 
given to the head man, who informs the ancestors that tins 
has been done and that they can allow the cow to pass ; for 
it is held that if this is not done, the cow will stop dead on 
the other side of the town and refuse to go on. 

It is not uncommon among primitive peoples to find certain 
actions on the part of animals forbidden, and piacular sacri- 
fices enjoined to remove the ill effects ; the only typical case 


of this sort recorded among the Timne was that relating to 
the crowing of a fowl at night ; in such a case some people 
kill the fowl and eat it, others give it away. 

It is, however, somewhat remarkable to find omens included 
under the head of mas 9m ; but one informant stated that if 
a " spider " (probably a beetle is meant) " beat its dram in a 
man's ear," it is masam, and a relative will die; no piacular 
sacrifice or other measure will avert the result. Here it 
seems as though the " drumming " is not regarded as simply 
ominous, but as itself bringing about the result. 

This relation of cause and effect is clearly seen in the pro- 
hibition which forbids a pregnant woman to go where the 
entrails of a big animal have been emptied, under pain of 
producing a changeling, or a child that is only half human, or 
of having some vague trouble during parturition. 

Another class of masam. is clearly animistic in its origin. 
Certain patches of bush are forbidden and a man who enters 
them is believed to vanish ; this is clearly because they were 
especially connected with the worship of krifi in pre-Moham- 
medan days ; the penalty is less alarming in the case of a 
bush where no one may carry a fire-stick, on pain of having 
it taken away and carried round a big cotton-tree, after which 
it disappears. 

It is forbidden to take an iron pot, or a brass kettle, to 
certain streams, because of the krifi, not, however, because of 
harm that will come to the human being. 

The active resentment of the krifi is also feared in some 
places : for if a farm be made where they live, no rice will 
grow or, alternatively, the farmer will die. 

On the other hand, young boys cannot go near the burial 
place of the " old people " or they will get fever, to avert 
which the oldest man in the village must sacrifice rice, palm 
oil and a fowl, and the father explains that he did not send 
the boy. Even a man may not go inside the boromasar 
hut except for ritual purposes ; if he falls sick, he must 
sprinkle palm wine and ask to get well. 

Not only the ancestors collectively, but the individual dead, 


irrespective of kinship, may be feared ; it is forbidden, when 
anyone dies in Mabum, for anyone in the whole town to have 
sexual connection ; this is clearly regarded as disrespectful to 
the dead, for if they err from ignorance, no harm will result ; 
among the possible penalties are, that both culprits will 
die, or the child will be born with eyes all white, or that the 
woman's belly will swell. 

Cutting down a tree near a grove is regarded as masam, 
though grass and seedlings may be cut. 

The remaining mas am, which form the great mass, relate 
in the main to (a) parents and relatives ; (b) rice and other 
crops ; (c) bundu, and circumcision initiants ; (d) secret 
societies ; (e) certain diseases. They refer largely to sexual 
intercourse, especially in the first three cases. The result of 
a breach of the prohibition is in some cases supposed to be 
nil, but this is probably due to a general decadence of primi- 
tive belief and custom, under Mohammedan influence, in the 
last fifty years. Where a sanction exists, it is comparatively 
rare for a remedy to be known against the misfortune caused 
by the misconduct. 

The penalty is visited in some cases directly on the offender, 
by way of disease or death ; in other cases the punishment, 
while still a personal one, is indirect and falls on some person 
other than the offender ; in a large number of cases the crops 
(or other property) of the offender, or, properly speaking, the 
crops with which the offender is brought in contact, are 
believed to fail as a result of misconduct. 

Taking first the comparatively small class of cases in which 
actions are prohibited because of the curses that might follow 
them, we find that this is only a ground for m as am in 
the case of the nearest relatives ; the father must be obeyed 
or he will curse you ; so must the mother, for if she says : " I 
hope you will be left in the world like the wind " (i.e. wander- 
ing from place to place and owning nothing), there is noway 
of saving the object of the curse. Under the same head may 
probably be reckoned the prohibition of treating parents-in-law 
disrespectfully, which has already been mentioned. It seems 

probable that it is to avoid a wife's curses that a man may not 
take her property to give to one of her mates, nor have con- 
nection with two wives on the same night. A similar rule 
forbids a man to bring a woman " friend " (komani) to his 
house for sexual relations without his wife's leave ; his wife 
might be notified by her husband and summon the woman, 
without the knowledge of the husband of the latter, and 
yet not sacrifice her own self-respect ; the " friend " would 
remain half the night and go home without her husband's 

Under this head, too, may perhaps be classed the rules 
requiring a woman to respect her hushand and, e.g., answer 
when he calls, kneel when she comes at his summons, bring 
him water when he demands it, offer food, etc., with the right 
hand, not cook rice and then go out, and so on. 

Conversely a husband may not go on beating his wife until 
he wounds her. 

All these latter cases, however, are somewhat obscure, 
though they belong to the general body of negro custom and 
are found over a wide area. 

The obvious reason that such actions would cause ill-feeling 
can hardly account for their being regarded as ritually 
forbidden, apart from the risk of cursing. 

It is equally forbidden to curse one's parents, one's sister, 
or one's step -father; but there is nothing to prevent a man 
from expressing himself freely with regard to his paternal or 
maternal uncles. 

Under this head, too, we may perhaps class the rule that 
forbids a man's sister's son from climbing his kola tree ; the 
result of this is supposed to be that the pods fall of them- 
selves ; the mother has to take a strip of cloth and beg her 
brother, who offers a prayer and puts the strip down probably 
near the tree. It is quite uncertain why the climbing of the 
tree should be supposed to have this effect ; but it is clear 
that the action of the mother is intended to prevent some 
ulterior ill effects to the son. 

Among general sexual prohibitions are the common ones 


forbidding connection in the bush or during the day 
(forbidden by the Eagbenle society). A woman must wash 
after having connection or she will swell. Two brothers may 
not have connection with the same woman ; probably for the 
same reason that, if two men have had connection with the 
same woman, one may not see the other one sick, because he 
will fall sick himself, or die, if he sees the corpse. A widow 
is probably forbidden for animistic reasons (see pp. 75, 128). 
A man may not have connection with a pregnant woman who 
is not his wife ; nor with his wife if she is advanced in 
pregnancy. After child-birth, relations are not resumed for 
two or three years, or the child will die. 

Incest is of course strictly forbidden, stress being laid 
mainly on relations with mother, sister, mother-in-law, 
daughter-in-law, father's wife, or younger brother's wife (in 
some places this is olas — wicked — but not masom). The 
penalty, however, for these oifences does not seem to be 
heavy; a man who offends with his mother-in-law risks 
having his wife taken away ; one who commits incest with 
mother or sister is regarded as a witcli ; he is fined £4 and a 
cow for sacrifice ; and if he is a " small boy," he may also be 
beaten. When we compare this penalty with that for having 
relations with a wife's sister, viz., £2, though the action is 
merely olas, the difference does not seem great. In the case 
of incest with a sister the offence is usually dealt with by the 
Eagbenle society (where it exists) ; if this is not done the 
offenders become sterile or their children die (see p. 147). 

In connection with these rules are found customs of 
avoidance of a kind. A man may not see his mother, sister, 
or mother-in-law naked ; he may not sit or lie on a bed with 
his sister by the same father, though it is permitted in the 
case of a sister of the full blood ; the place where his mother 
lies down is sometimes mas em for him; elsewhere he may 
sit on her bed, though not on those of other wives of his 
father ; if he does so, his plans will miscarry ; to escape this 
he must give something to the woman in question, that she 
may ask a blessing for him. 


The children of brother and sister by the full blood may 
not lie down on one mat together. 

The interpretation of rules of avoidance is usually very 
difficult and these are no exception ; generally speaking, it is 
clear, they apply to close relatives but not to those who, like 
own mother and sister, have grown up in one house with a 
man. It seems quite probable that avoidance is enjoined so as 
to make incest a more remote possibility : but, as incest with 
mother and sister are clearly recognised as possible, it is not 
obvious why the rules with regard to them are not equally 
stringent for the adult male, in view of the presumably 
greater opportunities and smaller risk of detection. 

The fact that avoidance between cross cousins is specially 
enjoined suggests that, in some cases at least, avoidance is 
obligatory in cases where relations were formerly permitted. 

It is clear from what has been said above that adultery 
.is not in itself masom ; a woman must, however, confess 
before a child is born, or it will die ; before the rice is 
harvested, or the crop will be small ; and before her husband 
goes a journey, or he will be disgraced. 

A widow is to some extent in the same position as a wife ; 
she may not have connection with a man till she has washed 
at the water-side, which is itself masom; a fine is payable 
by her paramour to the brothers of the dead man and a 
sacrifice must be performed, or the widow will die. It is not 
quite clear how far we should interpret this on an animistic 
basis ; the payment of a fine suggests that the widow is in 
the same position as the wife of a living man and that 
adultery is an offence against his property ; we find, however, 
that no man may enter the widow's house unless his own wife 
(or one of them) is dead, nor any woman whose first husband is 
not dead. Similarly, a man who has committed adultery with 
a woman may not eat bread or meat sacrificed to her husband 
when he dies. If he does so, nothing can save him from 
dying in consequence of his partaking of the food. Here 
we seem to be in the presence of a different set of ideas, 
-connected with an apparent belief in the contagiousness of 


the death of a spouse ; these cannot, however, be applied to 
explain the belief that the erring widow will die. Hence it 
it seems probable that two different strata of belief are in 

( i ills in the Bundn bush are inasom to men; they have 
a fence of etanke (elephant grass) round their house, and 
the enclosure is also niasom ; a man who enters it is rubbed 
with white clay and fined £4 ; another account says that a 
man's belly will swell (from medicines used by the women) 
and the edif>a (Bundu woman) rubs him with mafoi 
(mashed leaves) to cure him. 

Conversely, no woman is to enter a circumcision bush, or 
she will lose her nose ; nor may a woman see newly circum- 
cised boys. The woman who cooks for the boys must not 
have connection either the night before or during the time 
she is cooking, or the wounds will 1 >c long in healing. 

A menstruous woman may not have connection with her 
husband nor cook for her husband ; nor may she plant any- 
thing ; she is masom even to male children; another 
account says that her husband may sleep on the same mat 
with her, but would not venture to put Ins hand on her, 
though it is not mas am. 

During childbirth, and for a period of from three to six days 
after it, a woman is masani to men in some places, though 
her child is not ; even her husband may not see her after the 
child is born. Elsewhere any man may see her after she has 
re-entered the house (birth takes place outside). No woman 
even may be present at a birth till she has borne a child. 

If sexual relations are forbidden on ritual grounds between 
certain persons on account of their condition in life, they are 
also forbidden on account of the relations of man with other 
portions of the organic world, more especially the vegetable 
kingdom. Continence is enjoined on people concerned with 
the sowing and reaping of rice, or the planting and harvesting 
of other crops ; and occasionally on those who have to do 
with inanimate nature, such as makers of fish-traps and 
workers in iron. 

When the farm is 1 >eing cleared of hush, or hoed, a farmer 
must practise continence the night before ; generally 
speaking, no one who has ever had sexual relations may go 
naked to a farm, and the prohibition applies especially to 
women ; if it is infringed, the sacrifice to keep away the birds 
and beasts is "spoiled," i.e., rendered nugatory, and the 
animals will spoil the rice. 

If a man cohabits with his wife on the eve of cassava 
planting it will be bitter ; the same rule applies in the case 
of potatoes, yams, and crops generally ; both sexes must 
observe the rules ; if a woman plants ground nuts or koko 
yams, and disobeys, all the husks or tubers will be empty ; and 
all the kola pods will be empty if a man climbs a kola tree 
under similar circumstances. When they are digging the 
crop, the prohibition only applies to the first six days. The 
same law holds good of palm oil and palm wine making. 

Continence is almost universally enjoined before rice 
planting, though in one case I was told that abstinence was 
not recpiired, it was a no ma atu — "God's patience." The 
rice is mas am before it is threshed, until a sacrifice is 
offered, and another sacrifice is needed when it is brought 
from the farm to the town ; in neither case may a man touch 
it if he has not practised continence the night before. 

In like manner the maker of a fish-trap and a blacksmith 
must be continent before working. 

Of general food tabus, apart from ^m'-totemistic ones, 
which are dealt with separately (see p. 136), there are very 
few. In former days eggs were forbidden. Vultures are 
regarded as dead ancestors, who turned into them in order to 
come back to the world ; meat is cut and thrown to them 
and a sacrifice is not " good " unless vultures come down, for 
God has not granted the request ; hence it is clear that 
vultures are in as am, not as unclean, but as specially 
favoured birds. 

Generally speaking, secret societies keep their doings from 
prying eyes, and it is generally recognised that Pgro, Kofo 
and other societies are mas em to the uninitiated ; even the 

corpses of members may not be seen by strangers ; and the 
society house is equally sacred, though in one place I was 
admitted to a meeting, which was quite uneventful. 

The Maneke (Kabenle) society, which corresponds in 
part to Poro, is specially protected by masam. No woman 
is to eat when they are in the town, nor may anyone have 
connection with a woman ; no woman may see the society ; 
if she does, ceremonies are necessary or she will lose her 

No one may roast palm kernels when the Asur " oath 
medicine " comes to a town (see p. 80). 

Just as no one may expose himself to the risk of being 
cursed, so no one may risk being caught by " medicine." 

Witchcraft does not appear to be in itself masom, but no 
one should " remove another person's rice to his farm by 
witchcraft with his eyes at night, if there is a boundary." 
The witch, who is of course male or female, is caught by the 
" medicine " and dies, confessing as he does so. 

No woman or boy is to see a man suffering from a " bad " 
disease, such as leprosy ; the Maneke society take him and 
bury him in the bush. As diseases of this kind are often 
regarded as punishments for wrong-doing, and the sufferer is 
himself masom, the prohibition is readily comprehensible. 

In curious contrast with the victim (see p. 56) we find that 
all wanka (see p.. 60) are masam. So are newly circum- 
cised boys, girls in the Bundubush, the boromasar, widows, 
menstruous women, and paramount chiefs in the kanta. 

Loko — Ritual prohibitions (kake) are of a somewhat 
different type from those of the Timne, and are less easily 
referable to fundamental principles. A mat tied at both 
ends may not be carried through the town unless a leaf is 
put on it ; no one may run through the town or carry a light 
through a farm at night ; no one may pound anything in a 
mortar at night nor carry a pestle into a house. Cooked 
rice may not be carried to the threshing-floor ; a woman may 
not bring a wet fishing-net into the town. A stranger must 
not put his foot where they sacrifice, nor sit on a big stone 


near the town, nor go round a big tree, nor pass an anthill 
without putting a leaf on it. One stream may only be 
forded by a man who removes his trousers ; a man may not 
enter another unless he removes his cap. 

Here, too, according to my informant, a new-born child is 
k a k e. 

Limba. — Kowanki. — Generally speaking, protective rites 
closely resemble those of the Timne. even to the implements 
and names ; the homoeopathic cure is also recognised. 

Kasi. — As among the Yalunka, ritual prohibitions are 
known as kasi, which suggests (probably erroneously) that 
they are, or were, associated in the native mind with fines. 
It is significant that adjacent tribes of different stocks 
should have adopted this name ; it points to the fact that 
ritual prohibitions, like satka, are a complex embracing 
many different elements. 

When incest has been committed, bush medicines are 
obtained, and the offenders are washed " to make kasi come 
out of their heads." 

The terminology here, as in the case of sacrifice, suggests 
that an alien idea has been adopted, but not fully under- 
stood or assimilated. 



Methods of divination are comparatively numerous, more 
especially for the discovery of thieves and witches. In the 
simplest form the thief is cursed : " I have lost and not seen 
the thief. I give him to you ; hold him." Then the thief 
and all his family fall sick. 

The method commonly demands the use of a so-called " oath 
medicine," seha or seah, usually made by diviners or mori- 
men. They are said to have received upwards of £25 for 
such a service formerly ; " medicines " are now obtainable in 
two qualities, at £4 and £1 10s. In the Bombali chief dom 
is a medicine called ansur (spear), which belongs to a 
single family, and is inherited in the male line. A woman 
of the IvQnte family is said to have caught the medicine in 
her fishing-net ; a small hut was made for it, and the woman 
dreamed that it was ansur and how it was to be used. It 
catches witches and big thieves, and the victim " turns red." 

Anyone who is carrying the spear " turns red," if rain falls 
on him, and develops sores, finally losing his fingers and toes. 
By " turning red " appears to be meant leprosy. 

Palm kernels are not to be roasted in a town when ansur 

Sometimes an accused person swears before a medicine 
that he is innocent ; fire sticks are struck on the ground, and 
the accused person curses himself and his children if be is 

When a man wishes to make use of asasa, he gives red 
kola to the owner, who brings it to the required spot, and 
puts it before the door with some powder; tben the man 
who has need of the medicine takes a piece of stick and says 
what crime has been committed, at the same time telling the 


sasa to kill the culprit. After firing the powder the medi- 
cine is taken back to its owner. 

When a man falls sick, diviners say sasa has caught him, 
and the thief confesses. The owner of the medicine is told, 
and he splits a kola-nut, and divines by throwing it, to see 
if it is his medicine that has caught the thief. Then the 
owner gets mafoi (leaves soaked in water), puts them close 
to the medicine, and strikes the ground with a stone, saying : 
" If it is sasa that caught the thief, let the man be well after 
washing and drinking mafoi." Then he strikes the sasa 
with the stone and throws the stone away. Mafqi is also 
sprinkled all over the house of the owner. A debtor can be 
dealt with in the same way as a thief. 

Another method of removing the curse is to stand before 
the medicine, turning to the east, and declare that the 
" medicine " must not harm the culprit again, as he has con- 
fessed. Water is thrown on the " medicine " to make it 
" cold." 

When a man refuses to pay a debt, the creditor may 
"swear," and the debtor will pay if he gets alarmed. The 
medicine represents the chief who should have enforced pay- 
ment of the debt. The chief must be warned before a debt 
is collected in this way. 

Another method of dealing with a culprit is to go to a 
blacksmith's forge and tap together a hammer, pincers, and 
am bo ro no (used by a blacksmith for straightening iron). 
This, probably accompanied by a curse, causes the man to 
blow like bellows. When the culprit confesses, the objects 
are collected again and water thrown on them, the oath 
being at the same time revoked. 

Another method of divination is by ordeal. The suspected 
person and the diviner swallow a fish-hook, which sticks in 
the throat of the guilty person till he confesses. A hoe 
is heated red-hot and licked first by a child, then by the 
suspected thief ; the tongue of the guilty person swells till it 
is as big as his arm. The diviner is said to make the child 
immune by medicine. Water is put in a basin, and two 



palm ribs laid across it ; the water is dropped into the eye of 
the suspect, and it pains him so much, if he is guilty, that 
he cannot open it (see p. 48) ; if he confesses, water is taken 
from the other side of the basin and dropped into his eye to 
cure it. In a variant of this all suspected persons have to 
provide fowls, and the diviner drops water from a funnel into 
the fowls' eyes till the eye of the guilty person's fowl bursts. 

Eice may be cooked, to be eaten hot and nearly dry ; the 
guilty person is burnt. 

In some cases the diviner himself undergoes the ordeal. I 
had occasion to observe the methods of two diviners who 
made use of hot iron, and came to the conclusion that with 
a certain amount of dexterity it should be easy to avoid 
burns, especially as the temperature of the iron was low : it 
was far from being red-hot. Not only so, but I challenged 
the diviners to a trial, and undertook to test their methods 
on my own hands, but in each case they declined the contest. 

In the first instance, leaves (known as mafoi mo ban a — 
big niafQi) were mashed in water, and the decoction 
sprinkled on the fire ; the same mixture is sprinkled on a 
farm to keep out witches. 

Leaves were then squeezed in water. The diviner next 
took a stone, saying : " I don't come to look for all the 
country, but for one man," hitting the pan of water at the 
same time. This was in order to exclude any offender who 
had committed a similar misdeed elsewhere, and was not the 
man the diviner was looking for. The chisel was dipped 
in the decoction before being applied to the diviner's hands. 
Then the diviner put palm oil on his hand, and passed a 
small iron chisel over his fingers and the palm up to the end 
of his thumb, repeating the words: "I am called. I don't 
want to burn. If what I am called for is true, let this hot 
iron not slide on my hand ; if it is true, let it slide." 

The second diviner put a tablespoonful of palm oil into a 
pot heated on the fire, and lighted the vapour ; a thick iron 
ring was then dropped in, and the diviner, after dipping his 
hands in the leaf decoction described above, removed the 

ring from a flickering flame some thirty seconds after it had 
been dropped into the pot. The ring was then dropped into 
the decoction, but no hissing sound was produced. The 
diviner's hands were quite wet when he took them out of the 
flame, and it was practically impossible that he should have 
been burnt. 

The diviner, however, informed me that " for a guilty 
person " the ring would be left longer in the pot, and no 
doubt a judicious attitude in this respect is preserved. He 
added that he frequently burnt himself in his youth before 
he knew how to manipulate the iron. 

The diviner does not necessarily undergo the hot iron 
ordeal himself. A murderer might be thus tested ; he had 
to hold the ring in his hand for five minutes. 

A somewhat similar method is divination with ring and 
banana leaf ; the latter cracks as soon as the hot ring is put 
on it by the guilty person. 

When the diviner uses knives, he is said to tie charms on 
the handles in some cases. The suspected person holds in 
his hand a piece of stick as big as a match, and says : "If I 
am a thief, let the diviner be burnt ; if not, let him not be 
burnt "; and then puts the stick aside. 

Another method of divination described to me seems to 
depend on some kind of automatism, but my informant could 
not tell me how the guilty person was indicated. Oysters, 
stones, small snails, etc., are put in a basin near a krifi, and 
everyone can hear a slight hissing sound. 

Motor automatisms are utilised to discover thieves. Any- 
one — not necessarily a diviner — takes a fly whisk in his 
hand, and it beats the thief till he confesses. Two young 
boys put a pestle on their shoulders ; the diviner ties charms 
on the pestle, which " carries " the bearers to the house of 
the thief, and throws them down if they resist. 

Conversely, it is believed that a man who steals from 
certain people is unable to move from the place in which 
he is, where he committed the theft, until his relatives 
come and beg on his behalf. 

G 2 


A form of crystal-gazing is also practised ; verses of the 
Koran are written on a prayer-board, and washed off into a 
basin ; a boy with a white cloth over his head scries (gazes) 
and says : " I see the king of heaven and the king of hell." 
" What do they tell you ?" "They show me a man." " His 
name ?" Then the boy describes him, and names the town 
he lives in, and so on. 

The loser sends to the town in question, and accuses the 
thief. If the charge is denied, the chief visits the town, and 
another boy scries in the presence of the thief. 

A diviner utilises stones to discover the town from which 
a thief comes. The people of the selected town attend, and 
he names the house in which the thief lives, and finally the 
individual man. He may also take stones in his hand and 
rub them, afterwards putting them down in rows by 
ones or twos. As he looks at them, he expounds what they 

He may also put down a keg of gunpowder with charms 
about it, and the hide of a bush-buck near, with sand in it ; 
the sand appears to be marked irregularly with the finger- 
tips, and the marks subsequently interpreted. The diviner 
is said to be able to make the hide "walk" without touch- 
ing it. 

All these methods, however, demand the use of " medi- 
cine " or the presence of a diviner, and are out of reach of a 
poor man. To take proceedings in forma pauperis against 
a culprit, recourse must be had to the grave medicine. In 
its simplest form a figurine is made on the ground, and a 
katop tree planted, with the words : " If this person gets 
children, I give you the children ; if he goes on a palm-tree, 
he must fall and break his neck." 

In a more elaborate case three graves were made, one for 
the thief, one for the males of the family, and one for the 
females. A fowl-basket was also put down, so that the 
thief might everywhere be disgraced and flogged and treated 
harshly, and that when he made a farm, birds might come 
and take his rice (Plate IX). 

Plate IX. 

ATETTOT. Sec page 36. 

SENA. See page 84. 


According to another account, fowl fleas are needed in 
addition to the basket, which is covered with a cloth. 

In some cases at least, " medicine " is put inside the grave 
with the words : " The person who did this to me, and I do 
not know him, I give him to you, I give you his family " ; 
then the medicine is taken out and the earth filled in. 
Katap leaf is gathered and put on the top, and pieces of ant- 
heap wrapped in kalolum grass are put at the head of the 
grave. When the thief has been caught, the " medicine " is 
collected and the grave dug up ; water is then poured on the 
medicine inside the grave with the words : " Let it not 
happen again." Then both medicine and ant-hill are removed. 

A more elaborate sena, or seah, was made as follows: 
In the centre was a grave with a mat and a bier on it ; at 
one end was some banana fibre ; at the other a small tree 
(dead) with thread or cotton wrapped round the ends of the 
branches and the points at which they joined the main stem. 
At the foot of the tree was an ant-hill with cloth wrapped 
round it, and a snail-shell. One informant said that a 
climbing rope, and a hooked stick, with two head pads 
strung on it, were also put down ; but these were not there. 
The climbing rope was certainly put down, however, together 
with a palm midrib butt ; the snail-shell contained a stone, 
to represent the krifi; by this means the krifi was "joined" 
to the man who stole from the palm-tree. 

The curse spoken was as follows : " Stealer of palm wine, 
I do not know him, catch him, kill him." Medicine was 
apparently used in the ceremony in addition to the objects 
mentioned above. 

Not far from this sena was another, put up by some people 
who had been entrusted with a child for education, and 
(possibly) pledged him in respect of a debt. When the parents 
demanded the child, the people with whom he had been 
living were obliged to pay, as he had been sold by the 
persons into whose hands he had come. After paying head 
money the guardians " swore " against the people in whose 
hands the child was. 


This sen a was at a fork in the road hut on the opposite 
side to the second path, and on it was a pineapple plant 
with the vertebra of a cow lying on it. 

Divination is also employed to ascertain if a sacrifice is 
acceptable (see p. 42). A krifi is warned twenty-four 
hours before a bempa (see p. 67) is made, so that he may 
not be absent. When the time has arrived, kola is split and 
thrown ; if the flat sides are up, the answer is favourable ; 
if not, the krifi is " begged," and another trial is made on 
the same lines. If a second failure results, a third trial is 
made, and the result is favourable if the kola is odd; this 
is interpreted to mean that the krifi does not wish for the 
whole of the kola, but shares it with the people ; accordingly 
only half is left on the spot. 

In the morning the bempa is brought, and kola is thrown 
again in the same way ; but if the third trial results in odd 
kola, the bempa is "not good," and the diviner will order a 
goat to be sacrificed. 

Limba {Divination). — To detect a thing a sebe (charm) 
is put upon a pole carried by two men, and it leads them 
straight to the thief. 

A diviner also puts stones in front of him to represent 
wali and dead people, and shakes small stones in his hands, 
which he afterwards puts in a square, and divines from them. 

To divine if a witch has gone to a farm, a few pieces of 
ankap are cut and tied ; blood is dropped on them, and they 
are buried ; if a witch has gone, what has been buried comes 
out of the ground, and is found on the surface. This is the 
ordinary procedure in making a farm. 


Dreams occupy an important place in the theory of animism 
as one of the sources of the theory of souls and spirits. It is 
frequently stated that the dreams of people of low culture 
are far more vivid than those of more advanced races. 

This may be true of some areas, but so far as the attitude 
of my informants can be accepted as a guide, it is not true 


that the dreams of the negro are specially vivid, nor that he 
attaches more importance to them than the uneducated 
classes in Europe ; on the contrary, dreams are seldom cited 
as matters of importance, and not mentioned with any great 
frequency in march en. In a certain number of cases the 
diviner is appealed to for an explanation, and, if necessary, a 
means of averting the coming evil ; but more than once the 
words " only a dream" have been used by my informants ; 
and the inference is clear that they are not confused with the 
waking life nor regarded as necessarily throwing light on an 
invisible world. A dream of teeth falling out is explained, it 
is true, by saying that bnsh krifi have come to play with 
you ; and if a crowd comes and beats you in your dream, it is 
faiige, a magical means of the Kofo Society (see p. 149) with 
which they profess to kill people. It is also held that dead 
people come to a man in a dream to warn or encourage him. 

Dreams are more commonly regarded as omens without 
any very clear idea of how they come to have significance. 
A dream of death means over-eating; if you dream of 
weeping you will laugh ; if a leopard seizes you in the bush, 
your child will be a boy; a crocodile will mean a girl. To 
dream of a house burning means that " medicine " has caught 

Black in a dream is bad ; a white man in a dream is a 
krifi ; but to dream of white, clean rice means the death of 
a relative, and to dream of white shirting means that some- 
one in your wife's town will die. 

The procedure after a dream, good or bad, is often the same 
as that adopted in waking life under circumstances resembling 
those of the dream. To ward off evil, egg-shells may be put 
on a stick and the satka (?) rite performed, after which they 
are put on the roof of the house ; the dreamer should also 
pray for good dreams. 

On the other hand, if you dream of strangers bringing luck, 
you should cook rice in the morning and give it away that 
luck may come, doubtless as a result of the prayers of the 
recipients of the rice. 

Falling and flying dreams, so common with us, are also 
known, but do not seem to have any special significance. 
For some reason they are known as fan dreams (more ma 

To dream of a snake means that a man's krifi wants to 
come and play with him ; all people have their own krifi, 
according to one informant, and some get rich if they see 
them, provided they do not tell anyone. 

If a small child says it has seen a krifi, the parents will 
try to provide a sheep ; if a man gives a sheep to the krifi, 
he must let it go and the krifi will kill it; if he eats of it 
himself, he will die. 

A certain number of dream omens correspond with those 
familiar in English folk-lore ; a " spider " drumming in the 
ear is an omen (kador), and means the death of a relative ; 
to dream of a tooth falling out means the same, more 
especially of an old woman past child-bearing. A curious 
feature is the great definiteness of some of the predictions ', a 
dream of deafness, not a common feature in dreams, means 
the death of the father's sister ; of blindness, still more 
uncommon, the death of the father's brother. 

A dream of fowls held hanging down in the night means 
that a wife's relative, will die ; of being near a large sheet of 
water, that one of the family will die ; of being in water up 
to the neck, that a " big man " will die. 

Some dreams have special reference to twins, though twin 
births are by no means common ; to dream of a person with 
white beads passing in the night means the death of a twin ; 
to dream of planting the banana (epnlot) means that a twin 
or triplet will die, for when twins are born, beads are put on 
their necks, and these bananas are planted for their special 
use , if a man or woman eat these bananas, the woman will 
bear twins. 

It might be imagined from the number of presages of 
death among ominous dreams and omens generally, that 
death was ever present in the negro's mind, and that lie was 
full of the gloomiest forebodings. In point of fact, the 


mournful nature of the predictions is not peculiar to the 
negro system of omens ; it is probably not very different 
from what is ordinarily found in European folk-lore. 

As a general principle of interpretation of events, one of 
my informants laid down that if you see what is " very hard 
to see " — i.e., an unusual sight — you are going to die ; and 
this general principle is also common to many omen- 
regarding peoples. 

Some applications are so obvious as to be found univer- 
sally ; a man who stumbles and falls must return from a 
quest for money, for he will be unsuccessful. Other mishaps 
of frequent occurrence, on the other hand, are not heeded by 
many people ; an informant who said that knocking one's 
foot and cutting it on a big stone meant the death of a 
relative aroused some dissent among those who were listening. 

In the main, omens seem to be drawn from the animal 
kingdom: in the case of vegetables only monstrosities have 
any significance, such as a pumpkin (a kali) growing with 
the fruit upwards instead of hanging down, a calabash seed 
producing both calabash and pumpkin. 

If anyone sees the alisa (two-headed snake, said to be the 
king of the driver ants) in the day, he or a relative will die. 

Seeing anrof (litis nasicornis) in a tree or in the day, or 
akande (a tree snake) on the ground, is also an omen of 

A bush buck or wild pig in the town is an omen of death : 
" baboons" (probably chimpanzee) in the dry season mean 
the death of an old man. 

A porcupine or chevrotain seen in the day is a death 

If you see the young of a green pigeon, a relative will die 
in a day or a week or a year ; the young of birds are seldom 

If a plantain eater (okuru) stands on the bare ground, a 
relative will die ; it always perches on a tree. 

Birds known as atompete and kaporam near a town 
mean death. 


Domestic fowls naturally give omens ; a hen crowing like 
a cock in the morning means the death of a woman ; some 
people kill the hen. If a hen crows several times, the owner 
offers it anything it will eat and gives it away after praying ; 
then only one person will die. 

If a fowl hatches two chicks from one egg, one of the 
family will die ; if a fowl dies on its eggs, the head of the 
house will die. 

If the akbot fish cries when it is taken out of the water, 
a relative will die. A crab (kara) seen on land is also 
ominous ; if a man eats it, he will faint several times, but 
not die. 

As with us, the ordinary cries of domestic animals are 
recognised as significant ; a bull that walks bellowing round 
the cattle kraal is an omen of death ; so is a yelping dog 
that " crows like a cock." 

Plate X. 

^,v# / /m at . 



Compared with those of the Nigerian tribes, the marriage 
customs of Sierra Leone appear to be extremely simple. Only 
one form of marriage — by purchase — is known ; and though 
the wife may leave her husband, when she has borne many 
children, on payment of one kola, her position corresponds in 
reality to that of the bond wife (amoia) of the Edo-speaking 
peoples ; for her children belong to her husband's clan and 
remain his property, if she leaves him, though one informant 
was of opinion that a wife divorced by her husband could 
take her children with her. 

I found no trace of any anomalous form of marriage such 
as those described among the Asaba Ibo, where lack of heirs 
may bring about a temporary matrilineal rule of inheritance, 
or even inheritance by a man wholly unrelated in blood to 
the person whose property is in question. 

Such variations as we find in Sierra Leone marriage 
customs appear to be confined to those features naturally 
dependent on the age at which the girl is first demanded in 
marriage or the relation of her father to the suitor. 

Cross-cousin marriages and other special forms seem to be 
unknown to the Timne ; and in one case I was assured that 
most first cousins (father's brother's or sister's daughter or 
mother's sister's daughter) were not eligible wives, though a 
mother's brother's daughter might be chosen ; the reason for 
this difference in the treatment of cousins I did not ascertain. 
It is clearly not due to the rule of clan exogamy, now falling 
into desuetude ; for both the mother's brother's daughter and 
the father's sister's daughter would be eligible under this 
rule ; and the mother's sister's daughter would be ineligible 
only if she married a man of the same clan as the mother 


This information was given me by a Mohammedan , 
another informant, also a Mohammedan, confirmed it at a 
town distant several days' march, and added that the mother's 
elan was not forbidden ; the rule cannot therefore depend 
upon anv idea, whether newly introduced or surviving into 
patrilineal conditions, that the mother's totem is a bar to 

Marriage between the grandchildren of two sisters, on the 
other hand, is not forbidden. 

Widows being a form of property, it is not surprising to 
find that marriage with the father's brother's wife is possible; 
it is less easy to explain why a man should wed his mother's 
brother's wife or his mother's father's wife (not, of course, 
his own grandmother); instances of both occurred in the 
genealogies collected. 

In the case of a widow (see also p. 127), when the period 
of mourning is over, each woman cooks separately and brings 
her food with the words, " I finish cooking to-day " ; she 
gives one kola to her late husband's family and, bidding 
them good-bye, returns to her parents. At night if they 
want the woman back, each brother of the deceased sends a 
message ; a sister takes the kola back, together with some 
shillings' worth of tobacco, and asks for the woman ; she sleeps 
one night in her parents' house and then returns. 

It by no means follows that this custom is a reminiscence 
of a time when a woman left her husband's family when he 
died ; on the contrary, it is becoming easier now for a woman 
to get her freedom, unless appearances are deceptive. If the 
departure of the widow were the real explanation, the simple 
recognition of the rights of the husband's family implied by 
the payment of the kola would not be easy to explain ; for if 
they were originally not recognised, and subsequently their 
claims were acquiesced in, it is improbable that the payment 
would have been so small as one kola. Either the right 
would have remained unrecognised, or a larger payment 
would have been made. It is far more probable that this 
payment of one kola is symbolic, indicating that relations 


with the husband's family are broken off; it is, in fact, 
merely another form of the cooking rite and the verbal 
declaration. It should not be forgotten that in some places 
one kola is sent to the chief to announce a death in his town 
or chiefdom. 

As to the object of the rite, bearing in mind that the 
purpose of most of" the ritual of mourning is to safeguard 
the widow from the ghost of the dead husband or from his 
malevolent intentions, it seems that this separation of the 
widow from the husband's family may be merely another 
means of deceiving the ghost of the dead man and ensuring 
that she will not be troubled in her new marriage. 

With a view of appeasing the dead man, sacrifices are also 
offered to him by the second husband. 

In some places it appears to be not unusual for a widow to 
leave her husband's family ; and a payment of £1 is made in 
such cases. 

When a woman has left her husband, or been driven out 
by him and goes to a new husband, he usually pays bride- 
price to the former, otherwise circumstances determine 
whether the parents repay the first husband or not. 

He seems to have no claim when he has turned his wife 
out of the house ; but his wife must leave behind what she 
earned in the husband's house ; one informant thought a 
wife could take such property with her. When the wife has 
taken the initiative, the husband seems to have a right to 
the money, but is sometimes too proud to stand upon his 
rights, and will sometimes abandon them if the woman has 
been a hard worker. 

As to the right to the woman's property, there seems to be 
a good deal of uncertainty ; some informants held that a 
runaway could take what her parents gave her and her 
husband's presents ; others that she can claim what she earned 
(probably by trading) in her husband's house ; others that 
her husband's ill-treatment gives her a right to her property 
if she has been a hard worker, provided always that she has no 
children ; others again that she will get nothing if she has no 


child, but may get something as an act of grace if she has a 
child, provided she has not given her husband reason to send 
her away. 

One informant thought that a wife expelled by her 
husband could claim her children. But nothing supported 
the view that this is a general rule. 

A husband might "swear" before " medicine " if he did not 
wish his wife to go ; then all her children would die. 

It is easy to see the underlying idea in most of these cases ; 
even the contradictory rulings as to the child-bearing woman 
can readily be reconciled when we consider that the property 
left behind is what is recognised as hers by her husband, and 
what is given to her if she has borne a child is given as a 
recognition of the service she has done her husband in this 
respect, not because the article given was in any sense hers. 

It seems clear that the question has arisen comparatively 
recently and that there is no generally accepted rule. This 
confirms what has been said as to the position of the widow. 

Apart from marriage of widows or of a woman who has 
left her husband, a by no means infrequent occurrence, a man 
gets a wife either by making application for her when she is 
a small child, or by approaching her when she is near the 
age of marriage. The father may give her to one of his 
friends, as a special favour, or the suitor may make use of a 
go-between, who may be a sister, head wife, mother, father, 
elder brother, or good friend ; the go-between usually deals 
with the parents of the child direct, but may be conducted 
to them in the first instance by another member of the 
girl's family. The go-between is frequently the intermediary 
in payment of bride-price. 

As an example of the marriage customs of the Timne may 
be taken an account given me at Eobunki near Mayosn. 

When a girl is five or six years old the suitor takes kola 
to her mother and the mother tells the father ; he also gives 
cloth to the girl to make her well disposed to him. At an 
early period the girl may go to stay with her suitor, who sends 
back rice, a fowl, and four heads of tobacco for the mother. 


The suitor interviews the girl's father and gives him four 
shillings, after which the girl is promised. When the child 
has grown up, the suitor's sister takes £1 10s. " to make 
the child friendly " ; she interviews the mother's sister, who 
takes her to see the parents ; the father receives the money 
and gives some to the mother. 

When the parents send to the suitor to say that the girl 
is going to Bundu, the messenger takes one kola ; the 
suitor tells his sister and provides four fowls, four mats, four 
shillings' worth of tobacco, a " hamper " of rice and cloth. 
This is handed over to the girl's mother's sister for the people 
who look after the girl. He also provides for the girl a goat r 
ten shillings' worth of beads, a dozen waist-beads, gold 
earrings, cloth, a head kerchief, rice, and palm oil. 

When the suitor is informed that the girl is out of Bundu, 
he sends his sister with two shillings to say that the girl 
should pay him a visit ; her mother's sister brings her r 
accompanied by the suitor's sister ; the suitor informs his 
parents of her coming. 

In the night the girl goes to the suitor's room for an hour, 
but cohabitation should not take place ; then she returns to 
her mother's sister. When they go home, five shillings is sent 
for the father, and four shillings' worth of cloth for the mother. 

After the girl is out of Bundu a whole year elapses before 
matters come to a head. Then the bride-price — £4 and eight 
pieces of cloth — is paid; country cloth was formerly the 
currency ; and even now it is said that if a man pays cash 
only, his wife will not sit long in his house. The suitor's 
sister takes this in the night because " in the morning, it 
is not good to talk about marriage ; in the night every 
thought goes to one place." In the morning she asks for 
the girl. 

The parents provide four mats, a sheep, four fowls, two 
" hampers " of rice, a box of cloth, basins, fans, and a cup. 
The mother's sister and father's brother act as conductors to 
the girl and receive four bottles of gin and two shillings' 
worth of tobacco. In the evening they announce that they 


have brought the woman, and say they have said good-bye 
to the old people ; the dowry is then enumerated, and the 
conductors say they have brought the girl for the sake of the 
suitor's " big people." If she misbehaves, he must report to 
them ; if you warn her and she does not obey, her mother 
will tell her that she is trying to shame her. 

Then the girl is handed over to the suitor's sister, who 
conducts her to his room. If she is found to be a virgin, 
proved by the exhibition of the cloth, a dance is held, the 
conductors receive presents and a sheep is killed in the 
morning. Eventually " virgin money," from 6s. to 21s., is 
paid to the mother. 

When the conductors return they take cloth for the mother 
and ten shillings for the father. 

During the period before marriage the suitor hires 
labour and assists the girl's father in farm work ; the cost is, 
however, not heavy, as four shillings will secure the services 
of twenty men or more. 

If the girl refuses her husband when she grows up, the 
suitor reckons all the payments and the parents refund the 

If the girl dies before marriage, it is usual for another girl 
in the same house to be assigned to the suitor ; this involves 
a certain amount of additional expenditure, mainly, it seems, 
to satisfy the girl's claims. 

If the wife visits her parents after marriage, her husband 
sends one shilling's worth of tobacco to recall her ; she brings 
back a fowl, rice, and palm oil. 

If the husband dies and leaves no brother, the wife returns 
to her parents with her children, unless he left property ; in 
that case she remains in his house and takes care of the 

If the husband turns the wife out, she may take her 
ornaments but nothing else, but the husband cannot claim 
repayment of the bride-price (see also p. 93). 

If another husband approaches the woman, she refers him 
to her parents ; he sends ten shillings and three shillings' 

Plate XL 


worth of tobacco and asks if she has no husband. If the 
money is not sent back he prepares to pay the price, which 
is less than that paid originally. The woman comes to the 
husband without conductors and he sends his sister with 
twenty shillings as bride-price. 

The parents send six shillings' worth of rice, two mats, 
two bottles of palm oil and some fowls. They say she must 
behave herself or she will be driven out again ; if so they 
will refuse bride-price in future, and that would be shameful 
for her. 

If no price is paid and the woman simply lives with him, 
he may keep her children, but if he does not treat the 
mother well, they will leave him and become " children of the 
street," i.e., follow their mother. If a daughter married, her 
price would not go to the father unless the mother chose. 
The children are really the property of their mother's father ; 
but he may refuse to accept a granddaughter's bride-price, as 
she may cause trouble like her mother. 

The sons live with the maternal grandfather and work 
for him, and he gets wives for them ; they could inherit 
property from him, both because they work for him and in 
right of their mother. 

If a wife leaves her husband, the price is repaid unless she 
has children. If she goes straight to another husband, the 
latter is liable to a fine of £4 for adultery. 

The customs with regard to virginity differ from place to 
place ; a cassava leaf may be put on the rice of a seduced 
girl and she remains with her husband instead of being sent 
home for four days and brought back by conductors. The 
seducer will be called on to pay " virgin money," and if the 
parents dislike the man a fine of a cow in addition. If the 
suitor is himself responsible, there is no palaver unless the 
girl has not reached puberty, in which case he pays a fine 
of £4. 

Elsewhere the husband may claim £4 from the seducer 
and pay " virgin money " from this to the father, who shares 
it with his wife. 



The girl must name her seducer; it is mas am for her 
to deny it ; a virgin, it is said, conceives soon, and childbirth 
is easy. 

There does not seem to be any recognised bride-price ; the 
amount paid depends on the position of the bride's family in 
part, in part on the suitor's pocket ; the amounts named to 
me have varied from £2 to £20 : in each case a varying sum, 
£5 or more, would be required for " expenses." 

It must not, however, be supposed that the wealth of a 
family is necessarily increased by an increase in the price ; 
the informant who named £20 as the price added that the 
father and mother would send with the bride a cow, pots, 
cloth, mugs, basins, spoons, brooms, mortars and pestles, and a 
small girl as servant; this would naturally mean a considerable 
deduction from the £20. In one case where the husband 
paid £10, which he obtained from the earnings of another 
wife for whom he had paid £2, a dowry of £40 was said (by 
a member of the wife's family) to have been sent with her. 
The marriage turned out unfortunately, as in three days 
poison, administered by the other wife, carried off the bride. 
The actual cause of the crime was not so much jealousy, as 
a quarrel with the husband over the supply of water. The 
criminal had been flogged for abusing the husband's mother. 

Some people send fish with their daughter also, to be 
placed in the stream, so that she can claim to fish there by 

A share of the bride-price is often given to the mother. 

When any of his wife's relatives die, a son-in-law is 
required to make certain payments, and ask for the return of 
his wife, who goes back to her father's house. At the death 
of a sister or brother he may take a present of £1, two 
mats, and two pieces of cloth ; for the mother £2, a goat, 
and a hamper of rice ; for the father the same, together with 
ten shillings to console his mother-in-law. If the mother- 
in-law marries again, he will continue to work for her new 
husband, though he may perhaps not be of the same 


These duties of the son-in-law are incumbent on him even 
though he has not yet taken his wife home. 

If a girl refuses to go to her husband, a diviner is 
employed in some places to discover if another man has 
" coaxed " her. 

In some cases the whole price is not repaid, in case 
another girl can be found in the same family ; but this is 
not the case if another man has been persuading her ; where 
it is simple disinclination, only the bride-price is repaid; 
otherwise all " expenses " and presents. 

Some girls resist their conductors and are tied with ropes 
to be taken to their husbands; they are called afam 
abasibala, persons who hate marriage. 

Some men refuse to ask for the return of bride-price when 
the girl refuses to come to them : they say they " leave it 
to God." 

It seems to be recognised that the money of a wife who 
remains with her husband is her own, and that if she hands 
it to him it is a loan, unless she is willing to make it a 
gift. In one case a woman, Kina, who brought up a young 
sister by her own father, received the bride-price of the 
woman's only daughter; as Kina bought a wife for the son, 
the money was probably exhausted, but I was told that her 
son received the balance and that at his death it passed to 
his father's family, as his children died young. 

If a husband demands money and does not repay, a woman 
will complain to her brother and the brother will expostulate 
with the husband. 

If the wife dies, however, the rights of the husband may 
be recognised, especially if he has treated her well ; he may 
take half her property, if she is childless, the other half 
going to her parents. 

A wife can take her husband's money to purchase food ; 
but she must inform his family before or after. A husband 
should leave food for his wife. 

Various causes are recognised as a justification of divorce : 
idleness, theft, slandering the husband, or doing witchcraft 

H 2 


in the house. But these are regarded as among the ordinary 
mishaps of married life and a husband cannot claim the 
refund of the bride-price : any tines, however, that he is 
compelled to pay unjustly are repayable by the parents. If 
the woman goes to another husband, the children are his. 

In sunic places the wife can take her children with her, if 
her husband divorces her. Where a wife leaves her husband 
voluntarily, the children of a second husband are the property 
of the first husband unless bride-price has been repaid, or 
she has gone to Freetown. 

Adultery with a wife's sister may result in the wife being- 
taken away: but she may be restored after payment of a fine 
of £5 or £6. 

Impotence is a good ground for divorce on the part of the 
wife ; but the price must be repaid. Before the divorce is 
allowed, however, a trial must be made, for it may be a case 
of witchcraft ; hence a man's ill-success with his own wife is 
followed by another trial with a woman who has no husband. 

Sickness is a recognised cause of impotence, and some men 
appear to be either impotent or inverts ; in one case that 
was mentioned a man of thirty ran away the day before he 
was to receive a wife from the chief. 

Adultery in the case of a wife was formerly punished by 
shaving her head and beating her, and for frequent offences 
a wife might be handed to the chief to be sold. The 
co-respondent is now fined £4, or more or less according to 
the fancy of the husband ; a " good " man may be satisfied 
with a pot worth four shillings. 

Susu. — The bride-price appears to be less important than 
in other areas. Sometimes a girl is given to a suitor in 
return for work only. The work continues as long as the 
wife lives. In Somaia, I was assured, the suitor's payment 
is only a gift ; but this was hardly borne out by the state- 
ment as to the payment for widows. 

When a price is paid, the father may get one-fifth ; other 
shares go to the mother, father's father and mother, brothers, 
etc., mother's mother, and so on. 


Cross-cousin marriage is the rule. 

If a wife runs to another man, the chief may compel 
him to repay the price to the original husband ; but the 
children still belong to the first husband and she is buried by 
her father ; if the man to whom she ran buried her, he might 
be heavily fined. A widow goes to the husband's brother : 
he pays 24s. to her family. Some widows, if not all, may 
return to their own families and marry whom they please. 
The properly of a childless widow goes to her own family. 
An old widow may live with an adult son ; but she is given 
as a wife to an old man, that they may pray on her when 
she dies ; for they cannot pray on a husbandless woman. A 
woman divorced by her husband also takes a "husband" 
who will pray for her. 

Loko. — The suitor gives a ring to the mother, one head of 
tobacco to the father, as a preliminary, and goes in person, 
alone. He shares Bundu expenses with the parents and 
when the girl comes out she goes to her husband at once ; a 
go-between receives her from her mother. 

The bride-price amounts to £5 or £10 in all : but payments 
seem to be continued even after marriage, if she bears 
children, until the husband dies, provided the children 
survive : if the widow goes to the husband's brother, he 
continue- to pay. 

A man may not eat out of one basin with his father-in-law, 
nor sleep in one house with his parents-in-law; the latter 
prohibition applies also to a woman. 

Virgin money is paid, as among the Tinme. The penalty 
for seduction is £5, the same as for adultery. 

A woman who leaves her husband can take what she has 
earned, as well as ornaments given by her husband. 

Limba. — The marriage customs do not differ in any essential 
particular from those of the Timne ; but sometimes the husl »and 
is not formally introduced to the girl's family, or not until 
she is of age to many. 

Virgin money is payable and the seducer is liable for the 
payments to the girl's family instead of the husband. 


In case of adultery the husband receives from ten to 
thirty canes of salt, and the co-respondent hands him a fowl, 
which he may not eat ; in fact the husband's family, and not 
the husband himself, should receive the compensation. 

When a wife runs away, the husband can claim from the 
parents only if she goes to another husband from her 
father's house ; otherwise the matter goes before the chief : 
nothing could be claimed in respect of a woman who had 
borne a child. 




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birankai ... 


Qjl tig 



[1 ke;gQnD] 

kllgpKj ■",' 

kr^f nyalin 


nioffo i '* father 

fA< /■' ■■■ moth i 

I l/.N , 



/./.'. h ..': i '. hmband 

husband's broth* >' ■ wifi 
parents.. . 

fathi /■'■. "''/> . 

brother's wif I O.) 

daughter's husband** pa 


on'a ion i //■>■ i keke, miu 

daiuffhtt ■'■ cAtfd ( 1/ S i keke, wan 

fought ' rAt/d i m S | 

daughter** fa band I 1/*. i . mbitaii 

daiujhtei - Auatom/I W.5.) pakomane 


h q I.. 1 1. 

I- a 





lalo ... 


lalo ... 



Ion] ■, • ■ 



demia, mbla kaifj , 

Dtana ... 

bunks ... 


fetuQ ... 

i odt^em. 
i ndQg/eiu. 




At present three kinds of kinship systems are generally 
recognised : 

(a) the family system, which is the normal one among 

European peoples ; 

(b) the descriptive system, in use among the Semites, 

in which relationships are exactly described, as 
when an uncle, for example, is termed father's 
brother, or mother's brother, so that no ambiguity 
is possible ; and 

(c) the clan system, formerly known as the classificatory 

system, in which, in its most typical form, found 
in Australia and other places, the whole of a tribe 
stands in (tribal) relationship to each member of 
the tribe, and the same term is applied to all men 
of a given tribal status ; so that, for example, a 
man's own father is not necessarily distinguished 
from the other men who might legally marry his 

A more logical nomenclature would recognise two main 
divisions, family and clan systems. 
Under the former are included : 

(a) the descriptive system, in which all relatives receive 

names that show their precise degree of kinship to 
a given person ; 

(b) the system, in which, in the main, the terms denote 

simple relationship, and indicate it with more or 
less accuracy, but are intermingled with classifica- 
tory terms, including under one head those related 
through males and females, both as regards (i) the 


parentage of the given person {i.e., father or mother), 

and (ii) the parentage of the related person {i.e., 

whether related through father or mother) ; all 

terms, however, indicate that the persons denoted 

stand in the same degree of nearness or remoteness 

to the given person ; thus " cousin " is always a 

person of the same generation, if the word is used 

accurately ; " cousin once removed " indicates the 

relationship of persons in different generations of a 

degree of relationship one step more remote than 

uncle (or aunt) and nephew. 

Finally we have (c) a classificatory form in which 

(i) reciprocal terms are used between people of 

different as well as of the same generation, and 

(ii) the same term (non-reciprocal) may denote 

persons whose status with reference to the given 

person is not the same, e.g., wife's mother and wife's 


Properly speaking the " clan " system is based on the 

division of the community into two exogamous sections, and 

the nomenclature, modified by matrimonial customs and 

other social factors, is based on this fact. 

How far we can trace any of the features of the family 
systems to the same cause is open to question ; there is no 
prima facie ground for maintaining a genetic relation between 
(i) a system based originally on the separation of generations 
and the distinction between father's brother's wife and 
mother's brother's wife, to take only one example, and (ii) a 
system in which generations are frequently classed together 
and the same name is applied to the wives of the father's 
and mother's brothers. The latter circumstance is clearly 
due to the fact that both were or are eligible spouses for the 
given person, if a male is in question, and this is a condition 
that cannot possibly prevail in a dichotomous society. 

It is at least equally probable that the social organisation 
was not originally dichotomous, as that a dichotomous system 
has been so completely subverted and reorganised, as to 


contain features utterly irreconcileable with the original 

In this connection it is important to notice that in America 
the so-called " loose " organisation is well recognised and has 
not, so far, been traced back to an earlier stage. Nor yet have 
any traces been found of a primary dichotomous organisation 
in West Africa, But it is clear that the presence of a num- 
ber of totem clans, even with the rule of exogamy, would not 
give us the same kinship system as a dichotomous organisation. 
Prima facie, totemic exogamy with, possibly, a prohibition of 
marriage into the mother's clan, would develop its own form 
of kinship terminology. 

The kinship systems in use in Sierra Leone are of the 
family type, but so far classificatory that a number of kinsfolk 
are included under the same name, e.g., brother, whose actual 
kinship status is not uniform ; in one case, the father's father's 
sister and her daughter were addressed as "mother" and 
"sister." In Timne the father's brother's wife is yafet 
(small wife) and the reciprocal is pabaki (boy) ; a boy applies 
precisely the same term to his own father's wife, who 
normally goes to her husband's brother, but sometimes marries 
his sister's son, brother's son, or father's brother. 

The same term, yafet, is applied to the mother's brother's 
wife, and the reciprocal is pawos (husband) ; here there is no 
doubt that the reciprocal represents the actual relationship ; 
in two cases in my genealogies the wife of the mother's 
brother was married. 

If we turn to the term ntene (father's sister, mother's- 
sister), we find the same contradiction in the reciprocals ; the 
father's sister calls the brother's child pabaki, and there is 
no reason to suppose that they could ever marry ; the mother's 
sister calls the sister's son pawos ; the obvious inference is 
that the sister's son can marry the ntene, but the genealogies 
gave this no support. It is perhaps worthy of note that the 
father's sister is known as nt^ne both to Susu and Koranko, 
while the mother's sister is nga or nadogoma (mother), and 
that in Koranko the term is reciprocal. Perhaps this goes to- 


show that marriage with the nte,ne is forbidden and that the 
Tinme extended the term to the mother's sister when marriage 
with her was forbidden. At any rate the word nt^ne, 
according to French authors, means " forbidden," and is the 
name given to the totem. 

The nse of the term yafet, for a woman who is marriage- 
able under certain circumstances, is paralleled by the Mendi 
terminology; nje wulo (small mother) is used of the father's 
brother's wife, though she is certainly marriageable. The 
simple term nje (mother) is used of the father's and 
mother's sisters and mother's brother's wife, who are not 
marriageable. In the same way ke (father) is used of the 
father's sister's husband, and mother's sister's husband, 
who may not marry their nieces, though ke wulo is 
applied to the father's brother, who lies under the same 

In Bulgm the father's and mother's brothers' wives are la 
(wife) with reciprocal po (husband), and the nephew is the 
recognised second husband. The father's and mother's 
brothers are kenya, and this is the M^ndi term for the 
mother's brother ; it is worthy of note that the Mqndi 
prohibition is regarded as of less weight in the case of the 
mother's brother's wife. 

It appears to be the Limba custom for the brother's son 
to marry the father's brother's widow (yenina oyyt). The 
mother's sister is namoye,t (small mother), but the reciprocal, 
fati oyet (small son), does not indicate any custom of 

In connection with all those cases where the mother's 
sister is termed " small mother," it should be remembered 
that the death of the mother, in all tribes except among the 
Me,ndi, permits the father to espouse the wife's sister, though 
he may not do so in the mother's lifetime. 

Finally we have the Koranko, who speak of the mother's 
brother's wife as yanane (wife) with the same word as 
reciprocal, according to my informant. This indicates a 
custom of marriage with the mother's brother's widow. 


There is no trace in the kinship terms of any custom of 
marrying into an older generation still, but one case is 
recorded in the genealogies in which a man married his 
mother's father's wife. 

Descent is reckoned in the male line, and there are no clear 
traces of the existence of matrilocal marriage, though some 
■of the birth customs (see p. 108) seem to suggest it. 



The birth customs are on the whole exceedingly simple, 
the main feature of interest being the fact that the wife 
appears to go back to her father's house for parturition and 
has t<> be brought back by sending a present to the father and 
mother : if it were not for the fact that the husband's sisters 
conduct her when she leaves her husband's house a month 
before the expected event, it would be natural to interpret 
the custom as a survival from a matrilineal period. 

Under the circumstances, especially as presents are required 
from the son-in-law when the wife visits her parents on other 
occasions, it seems at most a recognition of the fact that the 
wife has done what was expected of her, and that thanks are 
due in some degree to her parents. It should be remembered 
that a present to the wife's parents is by no means a rare 
ceremony, even when the wife remains in her husband's house. 
If the present to the parents represented a repurchase of the 
wife, we should expect either that the child would be found to 
belong to the wife's family, or that there was a formal pur- 
chase of it, or, at the very least, that some trace of matrilineal 
conditions would be found in the customs of inheritance, but 
none of these conditions are fulfilled. 

A child is usually born in the bush : and after an interval 
the wife comes to rokulu,at the back of the house ; when she 
conies back, no man should see her on the road. The woman 
may come outside, but the child must remain within ; it is 
masom to bring it out, though some informants stated that the 
child was not in any way tabu and might be seen at anytime, 
even while the mother was secluded. 

The husband's sister is sent to him to announce the birth 
of the child and he prepares food and other presents for his 


wife and the women who aided her : this may, however, be 
deferred, apparently, until the return from the bush, if the 
woman remains there for any length of time. 

The husband can see his wife and child on the second or 
any subsequent day, even when the child must not be brought 
out before the sixth day, which is the date on which the navel 
string is expected to fall. This points to a belief that the 
seclusion is due, not to any danger from the child but to it 
possibly from witches or bad krifi. 

The cord is cut with a knife oretanke grass. The placenta 
is simply thrown in the bush or buried near the cooking place ; 
the cord, on the other hand, when it drops off, is sometimes 
kept, but is more often given to the husband to bury with a 
kola nut ; the tree which grows from it belongs to the child. 
The kola tree should not be damaged, but injury to it would 
not do any harm to the child. 

In some places, when the child is to be brought into the 
house, the father provides country cloth, rice husks tied in a 
leaf, and a sheep's horn ; he lays them on the child and all 
present lay their hands on them and they are placed inside 
the threshold over which the child will be carried ; when the 
child is brought in, they repeat the words : " You come, you 
find us working, you must work ; don't be cpiarrelsome." 

Elsewhere the formula runs : "Honour your father, honour 
your mother, do what they tell you, do not do what you are 
forbidden, help your father with farm work, try to get money." 

When a child is born, a satka is performed w T ith cloth and 
a cap made of it, that a witch may not see the head of the 
child. Or a knife is stuck in the door of a room where a 
child is born, probably for the same reason. 

In some places a sacrifice is offered on the threshold at 
birth ; a sheep's horn and country cloth are put there by the 
father, who prays for the child. He also chews kola and spits 
it on the child's forehead and head, and prays for long life 
and fame for it. 

Muslims soak rice in honey and put it in a mortar ; at 
the first stroke of the pestle, the child's name is called, and 


the child is brought on the veranda, where the ceremony is 

When a woman returns to the house with her child, a 
diviner must be consulted as to its health ; he may order a 
gown to be made for it or a fowl to be offered with the satka 
rite and then left in the house. 

If the child falls sick, kola and water are brought ; the kola 
is given to a stranger or an old man in the town ; the water, 
in a country pot, is used to wash the baby ; and the same pot 
must be used on future occasions. 

The child's head is often not shaved till it can walk ; the 
hair is simply cut with scissors before it goes out for the first 
time, about a month after birth. The mother puts on new 
cloth and a blessing is asked on the child ; the mother takes 
it on her lap and the father cuts its hair or shaves its head ; 
the hair, if the child is a girl, is kept in the mother's cloth till 
the child grows up ; the child then plaits the hair with her 
own ; if the mother dies, the father keeps the hair for the 
child. A boy's hair is simply thrown away. 

A name is given at birth ; sometimes a child is named after 
a man, especially the father's father, or one who gives a 
present to the women ; or a woman says, " That is my husband," 
and gives it his name. 

If the name is given later, the father chooses among his 
father, or grandfather, or his mother or sister, and gives the 
selected name to the child ; " this is the child I have begotten ; 
he will bear my father's name " ; the second child may be 
named from the mother's side. 

In Mohammedan areas a child may be named from the day 
of its birth, e.g., Alakamusa ; a boy chooses his own name 
when he grows up ; a girl gets her name in the Bundu bush, 
but may also use her old name. When a boy joins Poro, his 
old name is superseded save for burial rites. 

If a foster mother is needed, a relative, more especially the 
mother's sister, is the proper person to undertake the duties, 
but any woman who has just given birth can do so, even if 
her own survives. The child will help her with her work 

Plate XII. 


afterwards. Fosterage sets up a kind of kinship and is a bar 
to marriage. 

A child born with teeth is called ayina ; a woman buries 
it, or any other monstrosity, at once ; a three-legged child is 
said to have been born at Lungi in 1914. 

When a child loses its first teeth customs are practised 
which bear a strange resemblance to those of European folk- 
lore. .In some places a child throws the old teeth on the 
house and says : " I don't give my teeth to Mr. Frog, but to 
Mr. Snake " (because the frog has no teeth). In another 
locality, however, the formula runs : " God, here is the tooth 
you gave me ; give it to Mr. Frog (Pa Roto) and let him give 
me another " ; the child must then run away. 

Tooth filing seems to be but little practised ; when it is 
done, a palm midrib is put between the teeth and they are 
cut with a sharp knife ; a man submits to it to make women 
follow him ; when he laughs, all women see his teeth. 

Body marks (matal) are also of small importance, 
save as regards the marks of secret societies ; formerly 
a woman, when her breasts were fully developed, received 
some short cuts over the nipples ; another woman was the 

Susu. — The father sees his child on the day it is born, and 
puts in its mouth kola and " alligator " pepper, to " open " its 
throat. Then a fowl is killed for the mother, who remains 
in for seven days ; bread is then made with kola on the top, 
and the child is named and its head shaved. The kola is put 
in the ground, then taken up again when it has burst, and 
finally planted with the child's hair. The tree belongs to the 
child, but in the case of a girl, her brother, not her child, 
inherits it at her death. 

Twins are not seen by the father till the seventh day, for 
otherwise he might die ; they have " two eyes." Bread, 
100 kola, rice, etc., are sacrificed in the yard. If one twin 
dies, they sacrifice to keep the other alive. 

Triplets involve an even greater sacrifice. 

The ceremonies are the same when a cow calves of twins ; 


the cow may not be milked again till the calves are weaned. 
The twin calves receive names like human beings. 

Limba. — Two days after birth the mother eats palm oil and 
rice given by the husband. The person who shaves the 
child's head is of the same sex as the child, and names it 
at the same time. The cord, which is said to fall in three 
days for a girl, in six days for a boy, is planted with kola 
and the tree belongs to the child, but no harm happens if the 
tree dies. 

When twins are born, the father kills six fowls on the first 
day. A " doll " is carved if one twin dies, and it is kept near 
the survivor and rubbed with palm oil and salt if the child 
is sick. A fowl is killed to the " doll " on the day the child is 
weaned. A woman who was a twin still keeps her " doll " — 
a long staff — and rubs oil on it when she bears a child. 

Twins and triplets seem to be not uncommon ; four cases 
of the former were known in a town of forty-nine houses and 
three cases of triplets, for which the evidence was less satis- 


Over a great part of Africa, probably, twins are 
regarded as monstrosities, and killed or exposed immedi- 
ately after birth. There is no trace of any such attitude in 
Sierra Leone ; the birth of twins is regarded as a joyful 

A typical account of twin ceremonies was given me at 
Magbile. When twins are born outside the town, the 
father's hands are bound for an hour, because if he is not 
tied the twins are not " glad," and he cannot get much 
money ; therefore he is " punished." Both the twins are put 
into one fan, and the relatives of both father and mother 
dance round the town. When they are brought into the 
town, another rope is brought, and one hand of the father is 
tied ; other twins make the " twin house" on the right of the 
veranda, and the father's hand is loosed when the house is 


The fence of the "house" is made of tagbese and q titi ; 
inside are ant-heaps covered with white cloth (these are 
krifi), and on the fence are hung the calabash rattles that 
are used when twins are born. 

The twin house also contains broken basins, short pieces 
of tobacco, etc. ; this is twin money. 

If the rites are not properly performed, husband or wife 
will go mad. Certain " twin songs " have to be sung : 

"Ngnle,, B a 1 i, Nenqo, oya, oya." 
" Hail, Bali, hail." 

As a rule, twins are carried round the town in a fan. For 
this the father provides white beads, cowries, palm oil, a 
fowl, and shirting; kaf emak, a fungus that grows on ant- 
hills, is mixed with the palm oil and eaten by the father 
and mother. The father is tied with cloth when they go 
round the town. He must give his gown away as a present. 

Male twins are called Bali and Sine (Seni) or Sana ; 
females bear the names Seno (Suni) and Sento. An alterna- 
tive name for a male is Kern. Apparently the names are 
not always used. The child born next after a twin is 'Bese, 
and twin ceremonies are performed in this case also. 

Twins must not eat snail (which will cause crawcraw), nor 
iguana, for fear of deafness, nor a fruit of a tree called 
matiti, which is used for the fence in some places. 

No one should strike a twin on the head, or his own neck 
will become twisted. The twin goes at night and asks why 
he has been struck, and turns the man's face to look at him ; 
in the morning his neck is twisted. One twin can, however, 
strike another twin. 

When twins are weaned, women carry them to the twin 
house, wearing katoto on their heads, and carrying with 
them a rattle and a matchet. Eice, palm oil, etc., are offered, 
and cowries are used for divination. All the women present 
and the twins eat. The twins are asked what they like, and, 
if they cannot speak, they select their preferences. 

If a twin who is the first child falls sick and dies, it is 



buried in the ashes in accordance with the rules for ordinary 
children ; rice is offered in the " house," a dance is performed 
as for birth, and mafoi is rubbed on the dancers. Katiti is 
put near the grave. 

A goat or fowl is sacrificed, but they do not lament. 

If the twin is not the first child, it is buried in the 
" house " if it is small, otherwise like an ordinary person. 

Twins are said to be very fond of contradictions ; they 
contradict each other when they are born, and are always 
trying to get " separate minds." If one is dying, they take 
it to the house and say: "Kanka kurum bak ; kanka 
kurum tebak," etc. ("May God make you live long; may 
God not make you live long," etc.), enumerating a long string 
of contradictions. 

When a twin falls sick, another twin gets leaves and puts 
in the " house," and then squeezes them into water. If this 
is dropped on the face of the twin, the child will live if the 
water runs to its nose. 

If a twin dies, a wooden image is carved and given to the 
survivor to play with, though "dolls " seem to be unknown. 
The mother keeps it till the child is full-grown. This image 
is known as kobari (twin); it is kept near the mother's 
sleeping-place, and the survivor will not fall sick. Bread is 
rubbed on the image when the first of the pair dies, according 
to another account, which suggests that the image is provided 
before the death. The survivor is washed with mafoi. 

Anyone who plays with the " doll " is liable to get twins ; 
that means trouble unless they can provide the sacrifice ; 
they may die or become blind if they cannot do so. 


Circumcision ceremonies are, on the whole, of a simple 
character. The operator is called betieli or ayunkoli, and 
he uses a sharp blacksmith's knife. 

The boys dance all night before the day, and tie hand- 
kerchiefs like women ; they are carried to the east road, 


where a place has been cleared near water, and placed in a 
row. Each boy has someone to support him, often a brother 
by the same father. 

When the operator is ready, the helper (an s em a) draws 
the prepuce forward, and the operator cuts it well in front of 
the glans, with a single sweep for a small boy or two cuts for 
an older boy. The helper then puts the cut edges in apposi- 
tion, and various medicines are put on. The penis is some- 
times held up by the helper till the bleeding ceases. The 
prepuce is thrown into the bush. 

Among the medicines are the juice of a creeper, magbele 
and ratQiik ; elsewhere berries, or possibly peppercorns, are 
chewed and spat upon the wound, forming a deposit. Some 
use banana juice to stop the bleeding, others epilpila,. 
etgma, etili, ekant, enana, and elabo. 

After a time the penis is enclosed in a funnel of Qtili leaf 
and tied upright with string ; palm midrib is tied between 
the legs. 

After six days the boys wash. They are carried from a 
house (robirun or r ok a ma) in the bush to the water-side ; 
they are in this house at night only. 

As their general guardian in the bush they have an old 
man ; an old widow (yabemba) past child-bearing cooks for 
them ; no other woman may see them. They may not eat 
guinea-corn (t a s u r), p e n i, cassava, t o g b o i o (millet), ground- 
nuts, and pepper. In some places eggs are also forbidden, 
but this was formerly a general prohibition, which has 
perhaps survived in the circumcision bush. A father may 
not wash his boy's sores, for if he had cohabited the night 
before the sores would grow larger. 

Certain animals may not be called by their simple names 
by initiants in the circumcision bush. The word sanko- 
mani must be put before them, though it is not masem to 
use the simple name. Komani means "friend." 

After the first washing, they can go about as they please in 
the bush and wash their own sores, applying medicine each 
time, every six days ; after healing is complete, they can 

I 2 


wash as often as they please. They wear long gowns 

The ayunkoli (circumciser) and semi a (attendants) may 
not cohabit while they are employed in the bush. 

Food may be prepared in the town by the boys' mothers, 
and a sQma goes to ask for it, wearing a mask in some places. 

When all the wounds are healed, in the morning the takes them to the water-side to wash, and dresses 
them in new clothes. The boys dance in the town all night, 
still wearing the kunku; they may not sleep in a house, 
but stay on the veranda ; women may now see them. A 
masked man — in some places the ayunkoli — precedes them 
when they enter the town; the mask (be nib a) is thrown 
into the bush in some places. The women know that the 
masker is a person, but do not know who it is. 

In one place, if not more, in the south, circumcised boys 
dance round the town when the boys who have been newly 
circumcised are in the bush ; they spoil the oranges, bananas, 
etc., of the fathers. When they take gowns to the bush for 
the boys, they carry whips with them. 

The initiants pass through the town from the east to the 
west road, covered with a big cloth, and stay three days in a 
hut made of palm leaves. The Eagbenle precede them on 
the road. They wash every three days till the scars are 
black. The dance on the eve of their appearance in public is 
called begbula kobant (eating fragments from the bone). 
They go round the town in the morning, a masker in front, 
and the betieli (circumciser) washes them at two in the 
afternoon and gives them mafni. 

Circumcision may be deferred till as late as twenty-two. 
An uncircumcised boy is not forbidden to have connection, 
but he will lose much blood when he is circumcised. 

The circumcision mask is kept as a rule, as also is the 
palm-fibre dress. A second mask of sacking is sometimes 
used, on which they spit chewed kola, to make it look 
dreadful. This masker collects food, etc., from the boys' 
mothers, and runs with them to the bush. 

Plate XIII. 



Another name for the circumcision mask is ayuke. A 
specimen from Mapori, in the Kamalu chiefdom, with a fibre 
and palm-leaf dress (eyanka), is now in the Cambridge 
Museum of Ethnology (Plate XIII). 

Limba. — Circumcision. — Although there is no direct 
evidence, circumstances point to the fact that circumcision, 
like clitoridectomy, has been introduced from outside. The 
circumciser is known as betieli and a circumcised person as 
(ba)sema. There is no obvious reason for the adoption of 
the Timne terms (if, indeed, the case is not reversed) if the 
operation was not introduced either by Timne men or from 
the Timne area. The circumcision mask is known as 
basampere, and no other masks are known. 

Before the operation a goat is sacrificed, and the initiants 
jump over it. This is done on the east road. 



It is probably universal that, of all departments of ritual, 
burial customs are those which show the greatest tendency 
to variation from town to town or district to district. Apart 
from sons-in-law, non-members of the family have little or 
no share in the performance of the rites ; thus the traditional 
element, which stabilises ceremonies in which people drawn 
from a large area take part, is, if not lacking, at any rate 
less prominent in funeral customs. 

In Sierra Leone the varying influence of Mohammedanism 
may have done something to intensify local divergences; 
but, on the whole, in this, as in every department of native 
belief and custom, Muslim influence has been deadening and 
not vivifying. To this, perhaps, may be attributed the small 
importance of burial customs in the life of a people already 
singularly poor in ritual and corporate life generally, if we 
except the customs connected with paramount chiefs, almost 
certainly a comparatively late development. 

There are a certain number of innovations in the rites 
which may be traced to European influence ; chief among 
these is the use of a coffin. The custom of covering the 
body with sticks and leaves to prevent the earth from 
touching it, which is specifically declared in some places to 
be modern, is, on the other hand, probably Mohammedan in 
its origin. 

The first proceedings after a death are to summon the 
relatives to the funeral and to wash the body ; in the case of 
a male, the washing is done by male relatives, in the case 
of a female by female relatives ; the age of the deceased 
determines whether a brother or son or corresponding female 
relative undertakes the task. 


After washing the body behind the house, it is usually 
rubbed with oil, dressed in good clothes, a white gown being 
specially mentioned by some informants, and sprinkled with 
scent. Cloth is put under the body ; in non-Muslim parts it 
may be of any colour. 

The grave, sometimes three feet deep, may be behind the 
house or in the yard or along one of the roads leading to the 
farms ; the diggers are sometimes relatives — brothers, sons, 
or grandsons — in some places four men selected at random : 
the body is carried to the grave on a bier or in the coffin, and 
placed on the piled-up earth ; again it is a matter of local 
custom who the bearers shall be, whether relatives or not. 

At the bottom of the grave are put mats or sticks as a 
general rule, sometimes banana leaves also. The body may 
be protected by cross pieces of wood, sticks, leaves, or mats. 
I found little or no trace of any custom of orientation ; but 
in one case the body was laid with its feet towards the east. 

In non-Mohammedan areas no prayers are offered at the 
grave ; but in some cases the " old people " are informed that 
a man is dead. 

In some localities the body is taken down into the grave 
by men standing in it, in others no one gets into the grave. 
Grave-diggers and others have to wash either their hands or 
whole bodies. 

Before or after burial, mats, cloth and other presents are 
given by the chief and others to the head of the house. The 
lamentation goes on for four days in some places, in others 
until an offering of rice has been made ; the widows, sisters, 
daughters, sons' wives and female " friends " of the dead man 
take part. A married daughter is bound to come, and her 
husband should supply a victim ; until he has done this, he 
can get back his wife only as a loan. In some cases the 
son-in-law does not arrive till the burial is finished, and 
announces that he has come to make a feast for his dead 
father-in-law ; he gives cloth to the widows and hands over 
the cow, which is sacrificed on the third day ; the son-m-law 
is summoned to the sacrifice and the sacrificer announces 


that the son-in-law has brought a cow in respect of the wife 
that he received, that she may live long. Thereupon the 
son-in-law asks for his wife, and she is handed over by the 
head man or other person. In some cases the wife returns 
with her husband, in others she remains a month — for the 

There is considerable variation with regard to customs of 
sacrifice ; a sheep may be killed the day after death ; or a 
fowl may be killed, and served in a different basin from the 
rice, some of each being put on the grave. In other cases a 
goat is sacrificed, and the oldest man in the family names all 
dead relatives and says: " So-and-so has gone on the same 
journey"; after a moriman has killed the victim, the same 
old man shares it out. In other cases a cow may be killed 
without food being put on the grave. 

In some places a lire is made near the grave for a month 
and rice offered and left there : " this is your rice " ; some is 
eaten, some put actually on the grave ; there is also a cup 
for drinking water. A sacrifice is not obligatory, and only a 
little cooked meat would be taken to the grave and shared 
among the relatives who go there ; when the offering is 
brought, old women clap their hands. 

When a sheep is killed the day after death, a cow may be 
killed on the third day : " We make sacrifices now that a 
man is dead ; w T e who are left in the world must not make 
his children cry ; you who are dead, a stranger has come to 
you ; treat him well." 

In other cases the fowl sacrifice is made on the third day ; 
rice is put on the stone and the dead man addressed : " If 
you are willing to eat, let the fowl pick up rice." If the 
fowl eats, they go and cook ; the fowl may be killed by any- 
one ; then fowl and rice are carried to the grave and the 
words spoken : " This is your food ; may God give long life 
to those who remain." 

In another case rice is cooked two nights in succession and 
put in the house of the dead man, which no one should enter 
for some short time ; the rice is, however, taken out and 


eaten the same night and a bread sacrifice made on the 
fourth day. 

The purpose of these sacrifices is not always clearly 
defined, but it seems that where the food idea is not 
definitely present, there is a vague idea of benefiting the 
dead man, "that he may get a good journey." Possibly, 
however, this is merely a weakened form of the idea once 
or twice definitely expressed that the food supports the dead 
man on the way. 

It may be noted that in the case of a paramount chief 
money is put with him, on the ground that he is going to meet 
his ancestors. 

On the other hand, the annual sacrifice is, at least in part, 
for the benefit of the living : " when you sacrifice you get 

Graves are frequently scattered about irregularly (Plate 
XIV), especially in the space between the two portions into 
which many villages are divided. Occasionally a regular burial 
ground is in use, though it does not appear that there is any 
compulsion to use it. As it is supposed that husband and 
wife buried near together will meet in Rokrifi, the explanation 
of the common burial ground may rest on some similar idea. 

The main difference between the Muslim and the " Timne " 
ritual lies in the fact that prayers are freely offered by the 
former for the welfare of the deceased ; the body is brought 
out and all pray on it, so that, even if he has done evil, God 
may take him to heaven. My informant added that you 
pray for other people in order that they may pray for 
you when you die. 

In some cases, at any rate, the lamentation ends with the 
burial, whereas in the Timne ritual it may go on for anything 
from three days to a month, late comers putting a cloth and 
a mat on the grave in each case. 

Another Mohammedan feature, reported in only one town, 
was that, after the washing of the body, it is put aside, and 
the creditors of the dead man are invited to come forward to 
receive their due. Then in like manner debtors are asked to 


come and render what they owe or make a promise to pay, if 
they cannot lay their hands on the necessary money. After 
this, all pray for the dead man and beg that Knrumasaba 
may " put him on a good road." After the burial there are 
further prayers for forgiveness of the dead man's sins. 

The burial of a woman differs in several particulars from 
that of a man. If a woman dies before she has completed 
the Bundu ceremonies, she must be "brought out" before 
she can be buried, whereas a boy who dies in the circum- 
cision bush is buried there. 

The corpse is washed by women, who loose the hair and 
plait it again in the ordinary way, and then rub the body 
with oil and dress it. In some places money is put in the 
hair, because if the dead woman has not performed the 
proper ceremonies for her dead parents she will get palaver 
and will need money to settle it ; if she was a snuff-taker, 
tobacco may, as in the case of men, be ground and put in her 

In some places the diba, or head Bundu woman, is 
informed and receives a yard of cloth, to tie round her head, 
and two red kola. The corpse is put on a bed in the middle 
of the house and the women march round, singing : " You, 
what we told you and you desired, you see it with your own 
eyes ; you, you have no mercy, you leave your child crying. 
Look at our companion whom they put on the bier." Each 
woman takes grass from the thatch of her house and they 
dance from right to left round the town, starting from the 
dead woman's house. The esamburi (Bundu) drum is 
beaten before and after burial. 

The grave is dug by two men and two more take out the 
earth ; if the number were uneven, one of them would die 
soon. The earth first dug is put on one side ; clean rice is 
cooked and put at the head of the corpse, which is told that 
the grave is dug. Women then take up the corpse, a woman 
carries the rice, and others the presents of cloth, etc., which 
are not taken into the house. 

They march round the grave and put a mat on the thrown- 


up earth, which is levelled to receive the body. An old man 
splits a kola nut and addresses the corpse : " I hand you over 
to the old people," mentioning their names ; " I hand you 
your child " ; then he throws the kola down at the head of 
the corpse, and if the sections fall " even" (the sections both 
up or both down), he takes the kola, aud the corpse is 
lowered three times and finally put into the grave. It is 
covered with a mat, and the first earth is then thrown in ; 
old women usually fill in the grave, beating the earth down 
with' their hands; the first earth dug in making the grave is 
put first on the body, because the woman was used to this in 
life, as it lay on the surface, and it will not press too heavily. 

The grave-diggers and all the women wash before going 
home, and the hoes are also washed. 

Eice is cooked and, according to one account, sacrificed on 
the grave ; according to another, simply carried there by the 
women to provide the corpse with food on its journey. In 
other places no food is actually put on the grave, but kola is 
planted at the head, which will grow if the woman was not a 
witch ; if it grows, a fowl is killed and rice cooked ; the 
relatives say they are bringing food, and the feet and liver 
are put on a leaf with a handful of rice and placed on the 
top of the grave. 

The Muslim custom is to sacrifice on the third, seventh, 
fourteenth, and fortieth days ; the Timne have no stated 

When a wife dies, the widower sends a present to her 
parents by the hand of a woman. They come to see her and 
may carry her away for burial ; the husband would then 
provide mats, cloth, rice, etc. He should not see her corpse, 
just as in some cases a widow may not see her dead husband. 

If the husband is going to bury her himself, his brothers 
and sisters are summoned ; and, if necessary, word is sent to 
the parents to ask for information ; for if her mother has 
died before her and not received any sacrifice, the daughter 
may not receive any sacrifice till her mother's rites are 
performed ; then the sacrifice must be offered in the presence 


of the husband, and he tells his dead wife what work he has 
to do that he may have peace and health. 

An old woman takes the husband to the water-side and 
until then he keeps the clothes he wore when his wife died. 
After the washing he puts them off, as a sign that he and the 
woman are separated. 

There are some curious customs with regard to the burial 
of children ; it is of course a normal thing for a family to 
lose children in infancy, but if by chance all should survive 
to manhood and womanhood, these customs would still be 
carried out, where they are in vogue at all. 

The first child that dies in a family must be buried in the 
rubbish heap wrapped in leaves and raw cotton and perhaps 
a single mat. It should be noted that a witch is also buried 
without a cloth, on the ground that otherwise she would 
come back and trouble the living further. 

They do not lament for the child, which is buried by an 
old woman ; the mother goes with her and is washed later, 
together with the clothes used by the child. This washing, 
called ambiliha, is to prevent the sickness of the child 
from remaining in the mother's body ; the same name is 
given to the washing of the widow ; the word means 
" sorrow." The mother's hair must be loosed and plaited 
again, and on the night the child is buried she must have 
connection with her husband. This last detail suggests, not 
that the child is regarded as an evil spirit or possible enemy, 
but that there may be some idea of reincarnation, though 
there is otherwise no trace of any belief in it. The object of 
burying in the rubbish heap may in that case be to disgust 
the child with its surroundings and cause it to return ; the 
custom of burying the second child on the veranda is in 
harmony with this explanation. 

It seems, however, on the whole more probable that the 
burial in the rubbish heap is intended to deceive in some 
way the witch or evil spirit that is believed to have caused 
the death of the child. 

A mother and child are not buried in the same grave ; but 


a child's grave is near those of its relatives, that they may 
look after it in Rokrifi ; the grave of a grandfather or grand- 
mother is specially suitable. A baby is buried on the 
veranda that it may not be soaked with rain. 

A suicide is buried without sacrifice : impotence was 
formerly a frequent cause of suicide. 

Certain diseases involve special methods of burial, or a 
special location for the grave, frequently in the bush. A 
person with smallpox must be buried in the bush by people 
who have already had the disease ; witches are sometimes 
buried in the witches' bush, but with only a single mat and 
no cloth. A person killed by lightning is also buried naked. 
Anyone who lias suffered from large sores should be buried 
in an ant-hill by those who know how to cure such sores. 
An epileptic should be buried near water; it is mas9in to 
inter him on land. A person burnt to death must be buried 
on the road or the town will burn ; a person who dies of 
snake-bite is buried at the entrance to the town or the snake 
will come in ; if a leopard kills anyone, he must be buried 
across a river, or the leopard will come into the town. 
Anyone who dies of leprosy is buried in water and medicine 
is sprinkled over the house. According to information given 
to Schlenker, the Timne had some form of embalming 
but he gives no details. He also states that a slave might be 
buried with a rope round his neck, the other end of which 
was tied to a post outside the grave ; he would then belong 
to his original owner in Eokrifi (see p. 44). 

Apart from the washing obligatory on grave-diggers and 
mourners, there does not seem to be much fear of death or of 
the dead ; it was stated by one informant that the Timne 
feared the earth of the grave, while the Muslims said it was 
good. Occasionally the name of the dead is tabu, and a 
child who names a dead father or mother must sacrifice 
under penalty of falling sick ; this custom, however, appears 
to be exceptional, as no difficulty was found in obtaining the 
names for genealogies. 

As regards the widow the customs vary a good deal. In 


some places she remains in her husband's house, in others a 
house is assigned to her by the head of the family. 

Four days after the husband's death the parents of the 
widow in some places come to ask the husband's family to 
return her to them ; but presents are offered to them and 
they are told that the sacrifices have yet to be made. As a 
sign of mourning she wears white, and the brothers of the 
dead man also tie white thread on her neck and cords on her 
wrists ; she continues lamenting till these are removed. In 
some places a widow is not allowed to work, in others she 
can please herself; but she seems to be free in all cases to go 
about at will. She can even visit her parents, provided she 
is " carried," i.e., conducted by a small boy ; but she must 
sleep in her late husband's house or the house assigned to 
her, as the case may be. 

This is perhaps an exception to the general rule, for an 
old woman and the sister's son of the dead man are usually 
in charge and one informant expressly stated than no man, 
save this sister's son, might speak to her. Possibly, however, 
the informant who spoke of the small boy meant the sister's 
son, for the latter, who sleeps on the threshold of the house 
they are in, goes in front of them when they go out. He 
wears the gowns of the dead man, and is clearly his 
representative ; in some cases the widows are told that he is 
their husband. 

A widow who runs after other men is regarded as wanting 
in love to her dead husband and told to return to her parents. 

The period of mourning varies from fourteen to forty days 
for the Timne and is terminated by a ceremonial washing ; 
the sisters of the dead man, or the old woman in charge of 
the widows, should accompany them ; if the sister's son goes 
too, he waits at a spot half-way to the water-side. 

The thread and cord are removed before washing and the 
widow is asked to name the man whom she wishes to marry ;. 
in some cases the brother of the dead man can claim her, in 
others she is free to choose, but her children must remain 
with the brother. 


For the washing, they sit in the water and are rubbed 
with leaves ; the old woman takes their old clothing and the 
suitors provide new garments after being informed of the 
woman's choice, and send it to the water-side. In other 
cases the brothers provide the clothing, but this may be only 
because they can claim the widows. 

When a widow returns from the water-side her new 
husband brings a dance to meet her and she goes straight to 
his house ; a cow is then killed or sacrificed, with the 
words : " Our dead brother, may God take him to heaven 
and make his children healthy. May peace be in the house 
of the new husband." If, however, the new husband should 
have relations with the widow before the purification by 
washing, he may have some trouble in getting her, and have 
to pay a sum of money. 

When she marries a brother, he looks after the house and 
children of the dead man and all the property is in his care. 
He will buy wives for the sons and take the bride-price of 
the daughters ; if the second husband is not a brother, he 
shares the price with the widow and the dead man's brothers, 
who will assist him in bringing up the children. 

The cow appears to be shared among all persons present ; 
but in some towns each suitor kills a goat, of which he does not 
eat himself, nor does his new wife; the explanation given is 
that he is too glad, but this is probably an explanation sug- 
gested when the real meaning of the abstinence was forgotten. 

When the widow strongly objects to the brothers but has 
no choice, she can hand the children to the chief in some 
places, and then return to her parents ; if there are no 
children, her people must refund the bride-price ; if she has 
no relatives, the chief can refund the money in order to 
release the woman. 

In some places her family bring a sheep and kola to offer 
to the dead man with the words : " We bid you good-bye for 
the marriage " ; the relatives must hand the kola back if 
they want to keep the woman. If she returns to her parents 
the full bride-price is payable by the new husband. 


Muslim customs differ slightly from these. The widow 
wears charms that she may not see her dead husband ; she 
puts on slippers, for she may not walk on the bare ground 
under penalty of falling sick. For fifteen days they stay 
in the house and do no work ; they are, however, allowed to 
go out under escort to wash. At the end of this period 
notice is given to the women's families and that of the dead 
man ; a sheep and rice are brought and the women are taken 
to the water-side ; when they return they have resumed 
their ornaments. 

When the dead man's brother sacrifices, the widows also 
lay their hands on the victim. 

A widow gets from her parents all her dead husband used 
to get, and gives it to his brother, " to say good-bye to the 
dead man " ; " it is as if these things belong to the dead man." 
Each widow cooks ; and the food is put on fans bought for 
the purpose ; rice and meat are dished and carried to the 
dead man's sister's son : " we have finished cooking to-day." 
Then they eat some of the rice and their parents give a 
small present to the parents of the dead man and ask for 
their daughter. The parents should not give her to another 
husband until they have complimented the dead man's family 
and taken them a present. 

A widow should, in point of fact, marry in the dead man's 
family ; but if she does not do so, her father gets the price ; 
a brother of the dead man might get a small present also. 
The second husband offers no sacrifice. 

Another informant said that widows called on the name of 
God for three days and then sacrificed and got white clothing. 
They washed every Friday and sacrificed again on the 
seventh day after the first sacrifice. On the fortieth day an 
old widow took them to the water-side. 

In some places, after the agbili abura (washing of the 
widow) the clothes and sandals of the widow are hung on a 
small dead shrub by the side of the path, probably where 
the road forks, with four logs round it ; this is called (four-square). The widows dance all night in the 

1'l.ATK XIV. 


susr crave. Seepage 12!). 


fudia (house of mourning) before they go to wash; and 
leave their mourning clothes on their way hack from the 

Susu. — The customs do not seem to differ in any marked 
degree from those of Timne Muslims. But for a man the 
grave faces east and for a woman it faces west ; my 
informant said that a woman's face was turned " down " 
towards the going down of the sun, but this is probably not 
to be understood in a literal sense. 

The grave is usually outside of the town and the bier is 
frequently left upon it (Plate XIV) ; but a small child maybe 
buried in the yard : bread is sacrificed and prayers are offered 
that it may get a "good angel" (maleke). 

As a sign of mourning sons shave their heads and women 
plait their hair high. All wear white at a burial. 

A widower turns his clothes and cap wrong side out for 
three days and then washes " in moriman's writing." 

Loko. — A man's head wife sits at the head of his bed and 
stretches his limbs when he dies ; then she looses her hair, 
stands up and falls down, and finally runs about the town. 

When the body is put down near the grave, kola is thrown, 
and if it splits open with both sections up or down, the omen 
is good and the dead man will do no mischief : otherwise the 
kola must be thrown again. 

A widow sees her husband buried and is secluded for four 
months. She then washes and chooses another husband, who is 
informed by a sister of the dead man. The dead man's brother 
can claim her ; but if she objects, he will release her ; in that 
case bride-price is paid to her parents by the man she 

Gold is put in the mouth of a paramount chief : but 
otherwise there is no special ceremony, as might be expected 
from the absence of mas am. 

Children are buried on the veranda, but the first child is 
put in the rubbish heap; it is "a sacrifice of the family." 
If it were buried in the ordinary way all the other children 
would die. 



Black cloth is tied over the eyes of a witch. 

If a twin dies in infancy, an image is given to the 
survivor: rice can be offered to it for the dead child. The 
" house" is known, but burial in it is not recognised. 

Koranko. — A man is hung from a pole and carried to his 
own town for burial ; the joints are bent that they may not 
be stiff. The grave is dug with a side chamber for a rich 
man, and a stone is placed at the head, where a fowl and rice 
are offered on the night of the funeral ; the bearers, not the 
son, kill the fowl. Xo small boys should be present at the 

The widow laments and takes kola to bid good-bye to the 
family before the funeral ; it is given to the bearers, who 
have to inform the dead man that she has taken leave of 

The widow wears white and must practise continence for 
a whole year. She can do ordinary work but must not walk 
out alone. At the close of mourning her clothes are hung by 
the side of the road. She can marry a brother or go outside 
the family if she prefers it ; in the latter case the brother 
of the dead man receives the money through the woman's 

Limba. — In former times bodies were buried in the house 
or on the veranda ; now the grave is dug on the road or in 
the bush near the town. The handles of the hoes are left 
on the grave ; only grave-diggers wash, even though other 
people present may have touched the body. 

On the following morning a fowl may be killed ; it is eaten 
by all who were present, including the grave-diggers. Rice 
is offered to the dead man. 

The victim may be sacrificed in the house ; one informant 
said it was " to make the family live." 

Then the kaboga (lamentation) is arranged, which maybe 
a year or more later. Dancers (e,gbil kQro) come, dressed 
in skins and masks. 

The widow goes to the brother of the deceased among the 
"Wara-wara Limba ; she ties a cassava leaf on her head, that 


it may not pain her when she cries for the four prescribed 

Among the Safroko the old widows go to the brother, the 
young ones to the son, but she seems in point of fact to 
choose for herself. 

K 2 



A number of facts came to light which suggest that 
totemism, somewhat overlaid perhaps by other prohibitions, 
exists among most of the Sierra Leone tribes. It is true that 
the name of the clan is not derived from the forbidden 
animal, so far as can be seen, nor are the clans invariably 
exogamous ; but the exogamous rule clearly existed in the 
past, and in the main the prohibitions are of the totemic 
type ; the only attempt to account for the prohibitions 
asserted that they were acquired by "experience." The 
main indication of totemism is the (rare) assertion that 
animal and man are of the same family. 

In general the totems, if such they are, appear to be of 
small importance in the life of the people, if we except the 
Kuruma and Bokoro clans. The existence of the clans is, 
however, at once proclaimed in the Timne country by the 
custom of appending the clan name to that of the individual ; 
it is, in fact, on the way to become a surname ; at Magbile, 
Seni Kabia's son was known as Fode Kabia, and four of Fode 
Kabia's sons by his first wife also used the surname Kabia. 

The following 

is a list of Timne clans : 


Clan (a buna). 



1. Kamara ... 

(a) alulu (soldier 1 rird) 

sore on arm. 

2. Bangura ... 

(a) crocodile. 

(b) ran ink (electric 


3. Dumbwia 

(a) §bunk (yam sp.). 

(b) crocodile. 

, (c) wirikalal (duiker). 

foot cracks. 

4. Sise 

(a) crocodile. 

(b) leopard. 

foot cracks. 


Clan (a buna). 





(a) ran ink (fish). 

(b) ebeli (bean). 

(a) crawcraw or 
loose teeth. 



(«) akoma (lesser plan- 
tain eater). 
(b) ran ink (fish). 

loose teeth. 


K i n t o 

emasaiyim ("like 
yams "). 


Bokoro ... 




(a) a ban a (? weaver 

loose teeth. 

(b) ranink (fish). 

(c) crocodile. 

(c) cracked feet. 



(a) crocodile. 

(b) kabal (eel). 



(") kana (? civet). 

(b) atiiiko (snail). 

(c) arof (Jbitis nasi 

spots on body (if 



kakunip (tree). 

crawcraw (if used 
for soup). 



(a) abana (bird). 

(b) python. 

spots on body. 



(a) col i. 

(b) ranink (fish). 

red spots on body. 


Worn bo ... 

T "1 

(a) a b a n a (" red bird "). 
(&)alulu (soldier bird). 

(a) skin red if eaten. 



(a) ranink (fish). 

(b) katuhkele (bush 


Gbanti ... 

afunku (small bird). 


Kuruma ... 

(a) fire. 

(diara ) 

(b) baboon. 

(c) kola. 

(b) spotted hands. 



(a) nut oil. 

(a) nose gets black. 

(b) rats. 

(b) eyes painful. 

(c) akoma (bird). 


Clan (a buna). 



20. Fola 

(a) monkey, (b) dog, 
(c) tasur, (d) snails, 
(e) bush fowl (not 
to eat nor touch). 

21. Sanko ... 

(a) alJana (bird). 
(6) crocodile. 

22. Poli 

akamu (iguana). 

23. Lubu 

24. Mana 

25. Toronka ... 

Alternative Names. 

1. Kamara = B'araii = Mela. 

2. Bangura = Tale. 

6. Kano = Tunkuma. 
9. Kagbo = Sanko. 

Alternative Totems. 

Clan (a bun a). 




A. as No. 13. 

B. abunkenke. 


C. python, crab, baboon, 
anrof (snake). 

D. Anbonborot (tree) for 



E. crocodile. 


A. leopard ; cob : but may 
touch leopard skin. 

B. leopard. 


A. bush pig ; porcupine. 


Alternative Totems — continued. 

Clan (a bun a). 




A. ranii'ik (fish); abana 

B. ebonk. 



A. (a) leopard; (b) magbel 
(fish) ; (c) baboon ; (d) 
arof (snake). 

(a) skin becomes 
like leopard. 

(c) hands like 

(d) skin like 
snake, if he 
touches blood. 

21 [Kagbai]... 

A. elephant. 

Timne. — In a certain number of cases the exogamous rule 
held good ; but it is clearly in process of being abrogated, as 
there were cases in my genealogies in which members of the 
Kamara clan intermarried ; and it was more than once 
expressly stated that by means of a sacrifice the " nearness " 
could be overcome, especially if no other woman were available. 
The suitor sacrificed a sheep and bread in the presence of all 
the people ; in some places all ate ; in others, some asked a 
blessing and handed their meat to others. Some say that the 
suitor should not eat. In other cases no sacrifice was 
needed ; but it is probable that the wife would come from 
another village. 

The respect for the totem is usually shown by abstention 
from killing and eating it, or using the tree for firewood : in 
some cases touching, especially the dead animal, is or was 
forbidden ; Kagbo clan may give ran ink to one who is not 
a Kagbo, but must wash hands after touching it ; eating the 
fish, on the other hand, brings on the head of the offender a 
penalty that cannot be avoided. Bangura clan avoids 
leopard but may touch a leopard skin without precautions. 
In some places it is not forbidden to kill the totem and sell 


to others. If Kamara eats a forbidden animal, they tie a 
yam leaf in a big leaf to rot and nib on the spots, which 
then disappear. 

A Kamara man who sees a living python will die ; and he 
will not touch a dead one, though he will tell a man who can 
eat it where it is to be found. He will not, however, allow 
one to be killed in his presence and will offer money to 
secure the release of a young python kept in captivity. 
Probably all these customs are more or less in abeyance, for I 
kept a python in captivity for some months and received no 
offer from any Kamara man. 

In the ordinary way the descent of the totem is patrilineal ; 
but one or two informants respected their mothers' totems, 
though the prohibition would not be passed on to their 
children. A wife must respect her husband's totem when 
she is pregnant or suckling a child ; she may not cook his 
forbidden animal in his pots. 

In many cases the penalty for breach of a prohibition 
seems to be related to the forbidden animal ; thus, spots on 
the skin and the leopard, red marks and a red bird, cracked 
feet and the crocodile (skin), and so on. In no case did I 
hear of any remedy for a breach of the tabu. 

Two clans observe prohibitions of an exceptional nature. 
Bonkoro may not see a grave ; when a member dies, old 
people carry the body to the bush and dig a grave, on which 
trees are subsequently felled. On their way back to the 
town the grave-diggers may not look back. No offerings of 
food are made to the dead. 

The Kuruma family among the Timne are regarded as the 
owners of fire ; when a clansman dies, fire is taken out of 
the house before burial, for he must carry the fire with him 
when he dies, or the whole town will burn. Another 
informant said that fire should not lie lighted when a dead 
body is in the house ; but women might have a fire in the 
kitchen, for which a special place is assigned in a Kuruma house. 

Xo one should point fire at a Kuruma, nor should fire be 
too close to them ; when anyone lights a fire or a lamp in the 


presence of a Kuruma, he must .say, " Excuse me," and the 
Kuruma says, " All right " ; otherwise the fire or lamp will 
not burn. 

A curious quasi-totemic prohibition deserves mention 
here ; the wank a eyebe consists of stones and sticks put near 
a tree to protect it from thieves. It " catches " women more 
especially, even when they are not the offenders ; it is said 
in some places that certain families forbid fowls, and if a 
woman eats a fowl, when this wanka has "caught "a man of 
her family, her child will suffer from diarrhcea, which can be 
cured by appropriate ceremonies. 

It seems clear that in this form the belief is not totemic, 
for the combination of protective magic and ritual prohibition 
is necessary to cause the result in question. 

Elsewhere another story is told ; if the eggs of the 
atQmbeli (nightjar) are broken, women are "caught " by the 
wanka, and the children suffer from diarrhcea. Here 
apparently the respect for the bird is not associated with 
particular families, and the resemblance to totemism is thus 
diminished, though in form the belief is more truly totemic. 

The most noticeable facts, however, about Timne forbidden 
animals and plants are : (a) that each family, with few excep- 
tions, has more than one, often bird or beast, fish and vege- 
table ; (b) that different prohibitions are observed, probably 
in different areas, by the same clan ; (c) that the clans are 
highly localised, inasmuch as : 

(i) Some villages may be found wholly composed of one 

clan and 
(ii) clans are found in some districts which are altogether 
unknown in other areas ; this is of course a natural 
result of patrilineal descent ; 

and (d) that a forbidden animal (or plant) is by no means 
confined to one clan, but, like alulu, akoma, and raiiihk, 
may be common to four or five, usually in different combina- 
tions with other forbidden animals or plants. 

In all twenty-five clans were recorded among the Timne, of 


which one had two alternative names and another one. In 
the case of three clans — Sann, Kuruma, and Sanko, the latter, 
according to one informant, the same as Kagbo — the forbid- 
den animals were different in another locality ; in two cases 
— Bano-ura and Konte — two alternative lists were given : 
and in the case of Kamara, four alternative lists. 

The fact that both Kamara and Bangura are among the 
clans with alternative names suggests that there has been 
some syncretism : and this view might seem to be borne out 
by the fact that these same two clans are among those of 
whom it is expressly affirmed that they are not exogamic 
because " the family is wide." Against this, however, must 
be set the fact that Dnmbwiais also non-exogamous if a sacri- 
fice be performed ; and there is no evidence that Dumbwia is 

The theory of syncretism, however, while it accounts for 
either the alternative names of some clans, or their alternative 
totems, can hardly be regarded as a satisfactory explanation 
of both sets of phenomena. We can understand that clans of 
the same name would amalgamate, and regard the difference 
of totem as a minor matter, or that, given the same totem, 
the difference of clan name, which does not seem to be 
derived from the totem, would not be a bar to unification ; 
but where neither of these visible signs of unity is present, 
some reasonable ground must be found for the amalgamation ; 
and this cannot be supplied from my data. 

If, however, we examine the lists from other tribes, it is 
apparent (a) that different prohibitions prevail with the same 
name — Koranko Kuruma, for example, has no fire prohibi- 
tions ; (b) that some names — Kamara, Sise, Konte, etc. — must 
have passed from one tribe to another, either by migration of 
individuals or because the name of an important clan like 
Kamara tends to take the place of a minor group with the 
same or some of the same forbidden animals. 

The most obvious fact is, however, that the number of for- 
bidden animals per family is much less than among the 
Timne ; and where multiple totems are found, we may at any 


rate suspect Tinme influence, even where the name is not 

A certain number of animals are respected by more than 
one clan in these tribes also. It is not unreasonable to sup- 
pose that where Kaire and Mara amoug the Koranko both 
respect the leopard, the former clan is a foreign product ; and 
that they are on their way to becoming identified ; but even 
if this is so we have no clue to the aliases of the Timne 
clans ; for, as has been shown above, the forbidden animals 
are rarely if ever the same. 

Limba. — The original clan of Bumban was Konte, but the 
exogamous rule brought in other families ; such was the 
solidarity of the clan that a debt lapsed if the debtor could 
not pay or borrow money from his " elder brother." 

Koranko. — The rule of exogamy prevails ; an offence 
causes the death of both parties ; but sexual relations are 
permitted. The name is more important than the forbidden 
animal. Koranko Kaire may not intermarry with Limba Kaite. 

A man of Monko clan who is made chief wears baboon's 
teeth on his wrist ; a chief of the Kaire clan sits on a leopard 
skin and wears leopard's teeth. 

The Kaire clan may not wear a red cap nor the red cloth ; 
the Mara clan may not sit on a sheepskin ; Konte may neither 
eat nor plant guinea corn. 

The following are the totems of some of the other tribes ; 
the figures in brackets show the equivalent Timne clan. 

Limba (II). 




Kagbo (9) 
Konte (16) 


hands turn white, 
teeth fall out. 





6. Xinken ...I crocodile. 

I soldier bird. 

7. Ukoda ... col>. 


8. Oboli ... civet cat (neither killed 

nor eaten). 

9. Umun ... baboon. 

Another informant gave d§ m bile, a fabulous animal like 
a squirrel, as the totem of [Bi] Yedimi. 

Fur some portion of the Limba tribe the number of totems 
seems to be limited. The following lists were given me : — 

(a) Susu Limba. 

(b) Kafoko and 






Deme ... ... (b) dembele (?no 

Mun ... ... (a) (b) baboon. 

Kemoin ... ... (b) huwoto (snake), 

Kamboin ... (b) leopard. 

The clans are exogamous. 

Yalunka (III). 



1. Kamara (1) 

2. Dumbwiya ('■'>) 

3. Sise (4) ... 

4. Vatara (19) 

5. Kwiate ... 

6. Yatana ... 

soldier bird. 

anrof (snake), 
monkey, baboon, 

Plate XV 





1. Sise (4) 

2. Konte(16) 

3. Kururaa (18) ... 

4. Kaire ( = Limb a Kaite) 

5. Mara 

6. Toli 

7. Mnnko 

8. Dau 


crocodile, python, " guinea 

arof ( '. bit is nasi cornis), hawk 

[no tire prohibitions], 
hush fowl, owl. 
baboon, ebunk. 

Loko (V). 



1. Kiowa (1) 

2. Lobo(4)... 

3. Yahipomo (9) 

4. 'JBandea (24) 

5. Burebo 

ran ink, python, 
duiker, crocodile, etc. 

elephant (may not tread on 

squirrel, baboon. 
ran ink, owl. 

The Koranko Kuruma have not the same masom as the 
Timne. One informant said that he ate the fish called 
magbel when he was young, and that the Timne Kuruma 
believed they would get lumps on their necks if they did so. 
This was not mentioned by any Timne. 

The ritual prohibitions of the Koranko Kuruma are 
(a) animals that die a natural death (probably of Mohammedan 
origin), and (b) pig, monkey, and all animals that jump from 
tree to tree, for God changed their ancestors into these animals 
when he was angry. 


It is noteworthy that the name for clan is the same for 
Koranko, Yalunka, Limba. There is nothing remarkable in 
the agreement of the two former names ; but the identity of 
the Limba name, though the tribe is of an entirely different 
linguistic stock, raises a suspicion that their totemism is 

Delafosse (Haut-Senegal, Niger, I, 135-142, III, 108) gives 
the names and tana of many Mandingo and other tribes ; of 
these, seven are also among the Timne and Limba totems, 
but only one of the few tana recorded is identical. Delafosse, 
however, states that the tana are numerous, and vary for 
each clan. 




The Poro secret society is known in the Mendi, Bulani, 
and Timne tribes, but there can be very little doubt that the 
Timne have derived it from one of the other tribes ; for not 
only is there a tradition to this effect but the limitation of 
the society to the south-eastern portion of the Timne area 
would make its importation from outside extremely prob- 
able, even if no other evidence were available. 

The fact that the chief of Poro, in the Yoni country, is 
known as Bai Sherbro suggests that it is from the Sherbro 
(Bulam) tribe that Poro rites were learned. This is also the 
record of tradition. I was told at MatotQka that the Bulam 
brought PQro. 

A number of writers have recorded facts about this secret 
society, chiefly in the form in which it is found in the Mendi 
tribe ; on the whole, comparatively little has been published 
about the Timne form. The older travellers who mention it 
describe it as governing the country, and state that Poro 
members go about seizing the property of non-members, both 
of which are reported of the Timne as well as of the other 
tribes. Little or nothing, however, has been reported of the 
method of initiation — the boy's, as it may be called, to 
distinguish it from the Poro which is concerned with judicial 
or other functions. 

There is a clear relation between the chieftainship and the 
Poro society, for the latter, where it exists, corresponds to 
the Rabenle or Maneke Society of other areas, whose func- 
tion is, amongst other things, to maintain the chief's 
authority. So close is the connection that chiefs may be 
spoken of as Iiabenle or Poro chiefs. 


Bulam — A certain amount of information was obtained 
as to Sherbro Poro. The names show obvious phonetic corre- 
spondence to those of the Timne. Thus we find Taso 
( = Kasi), Laga ( = Eaka), and Kamegotrun (? = kamebwi) in 
the sense of Poro bush. 

The bush is cleared, and a palm screen called kani put 
at the entrance, the gate of which is known as kamela. 
Dim omoi, twisted on poles, is the sign of the Poro bush. 
Inside is a place where ordinary matters may be discussed, 
and a second kani as a screen before the inner " bush." 
There are small huts (baf e) for the candidates. 

Taso is supreme in the bush ; he wears a high hat (tange- 
tanga) of wood and rattan, with the skulls and thigh-bones 
of former Taso, who are taken to the bush to die ; feathers of 
the bulo (greater plantain-eater) also form part of it, and he 
wears a dress (jambe) of fibre of dubwi (raphia vin.) 
made into a net. Ked and white paint and soot are on his 
face and arms; he wears dance leglets (bowi) on his knees, 
and similar objects (bakumabenge) on arms and waist. He 
comes out at times when Poro is in the bush, and members 
attend him with tortoise shells, saying: " ndumbi wao" 
('• Taso is come "). 

Laga' is the messenger. He is concerned with seizing 
candidates and the punishment of offences ; his face is 
spotted like Taso's ; he carries a wooden shield (re) aud 
sword. His followers are allowed to catch any fowls they 
find in the town, but the chief redeems them with cloth and 
rice. He addresses members by saying: "Heiiga Soko" 
("Men of Poro"); and they answer: " m, m, m," "wain, 
wain" (i.e., laughing); then all shout " hii." The usual 
salutation is " Sokoti " — head of Poro. 

Both Taso and Laga' are buried naked, wrapped in 
leaves, in the bush ; they are first examined and the 
spleen inspected to see if they were witches ; if not, the gafe 
(or krifi) comes out and cries in falsetto: "kongo yafe," 
"clean telly krifi." 

When a boy is to be initiated into Poi, he may go volun- 


tarily or be seized: an uninitiated person is called powa; 
the gaf e takes him (so-called from the gafe or horn through 
which he speaks). Seki (= Soko) follow the gafe, and they 
halt just outside the town to shout: " he, he, he,," holding 
their noses to disguise their voices ; the women escape to 
the bush. 

The gafe makes a sound "m, m, m," and a man 
(ngahomwi) who holds a folded mat strikes it on the 
ground. This is to represent the sound made when the 
gafe breaks the head of the candidate (ngafe ngjwi 
ngunga). The sijki take the candidate to the bush, and he 
passes straight in. 

The biri (marks) are made with a hook and knife, and 
palm oil is rubbed on the cuts. As they are healing they 
are rubbed with maize to make the keloids stand up. When 
they are putting on the mark they say, "Opon" ("For 
ever "), and the answer is " o." 

Bunu is the wife of gafe, and when initiants go out of the 
bush, they make sounds with their hands in front of their 
mouths. Women keep out of their way. Women may be 
warned by the shout, "Bunu a warn a," and they lie down 
flat and cover their faces. Sometimes the}' say that Bunu is 
hungry, and men go round to collect. 

Before the boys leave the bush, on a moonlight night they 
perform a ceremony. The night is called gafe yonlegbe — 
day to beat gafe's belly, because he has eaten them all. 

Their old clothes are put in a heap and tied tightly ; the 
members drag them round the town and beat them. G-afe 
waits in the bush, and the others say in falsetto : "batilihge 
siane" (" Give us the people's children"). Gafe replies: 
" o mqne, mQne, mone " (" 0, trouble "). 

The boys are then carried into the town on men's 
shoulders, with their feet held. Soon after this members 
follow gafe into the bush and uproot trees or break off 
branches, to represent the efforts of gafe to avoid being 

A small palm-tree ( = gafe) is dragged into the town and 



then into the bush. Before dawn the half -initiated hoys 
(bangan) are taken to the uanganejta, and the hoys wash 
behind the house with water fetched by the women ; their 
heads have already been shaved in the bush, when gafe's 
belly was beaten. No woman may see them till their hair 
is grown. All the boys wear long caps, for they are very 
young, and their heads are soft. 

They sleep in the house three nights, and are then dressed 
and put in the bari ; they may walk out accompanied by a 
suki, and must carry on conversation through him. They 
sleep three nights in the bari, and a woman gives them 
their Poro names. 

When they are to be brought out, Taso, who is the speaker 
of the gafe, puts his foot out and holds the boy by the 
hand ; the boy puts one foot on Taso's, who lifts him out 
with his foot, saying: "6 pon 6." A young man just out of 
Poro bush is called si mo. 

The name given to a woman initiated into Poro is 
mamboi. She is put in if she falls sick after learning 
something of Poro secrets ; she stays eight days in the bush, 
if initiation ceremonies are not going on, and lives in the 
baf e (palm-leaf hut) in the night ; if initiation ceremonies 
are being performed, she comes out with the other initiants. 
A woman must die in the Poro bush and be buried there 
if she has been initiated. Some account of Bulom Poro was 
printed in the Royal Gazette of Jan. 1824. 


Ra'benle. — The Ooenle (pi. Ilabenle) Society — also known 
as Katinka Maneke, or Maneke — corresponds to some extent 
to Poro. There is perhaps a certain amount of jealousy 
between them, as each claims power over the other. The 
Eabenle Society, however, is more restricted in influence and 

Their functions are connected with the election and 
crowning of a new paramount chief, with the curing of 
diseases caused by infraction of laws against incest, etc., 

Plate XVI. 




with the recovery of debts to some extent, and with cere- 
monies to promote the growth of the crops. Members 
appear to be chosen by the existing members of the society, 
but take their places only after the old ones die ; they are 
therefore rather office-holders than members of a secret 
society. They are sometimes said to be the krifi of the 
country and bempa in their society meeting-place, Turuma, 
which was explained to mean " purifying stones." 

The Eabenle complete the ceremonies for a dead chief ; 
have then to shut up the new chief in the kanta. On 
each occasion the mask is worn ; it is sometimes known as 
aron etoma ; toma is said to mean "forbidden," but it 
seems to be the name of a tree. They also take out the 
mask when a member dies. 

When a man falls sick for his misdeeds, the head of the 
society (sometimes called Banekelema) takes rice to Turuma 
for sacrifice. Leaves are squeezed in water and a wooden 
basin held to the patient's mouth and then taken away, then 
given to him again, and he drinks four times. The words 
spoken are : " These are born in the world and these are the 
old krifi ; so we come and ask you to give this man health 
and long life." 

Anyone who is sterile on account of incest is stripped and 
taken to Turuma, where a dog is sacrificed and eaten by the 
Rabenle, with the exception of the head, which is left for the 
krifi. The pair are tied together and seated on the stones, 
after which they make confession, saying they are brought 
to the ancestor that they may lie no longer sterile. The 
man may be flogged with whips ; the woman is washed and 
rubbed with mafoi. An ill-doer in the society merely breaks 
a certain leaf and chews it. 

They come out after a fire and sing. "When they have 
cleared away the ashes, they get leaves and sprinkle a decoc- 
tion. If the house were rebuilt before this ceremony the 
town would be burnt again. 

When they crops are bad, they collect fowls and rice and 
get their medicine, which is scattered over the farms. They 

l 2 


dance in the town two days and nights, and sacrifice an 
animal when the ceremonies are finished. 

Their messenger is Nemankera, who has a long wooden 
beard on his mask (Plate V). 

They claim to be able to " swear " and make a man's 
joints stiff, to prepare a liquor and cause a Soko man 
to die. 

No uncircumcised man may see them, nor any woman, or 
their noses will drop off. Even the shadow of Maneke should 
not be seen. A man forfeits a red bead. 

A woman who has thus offended is taken to Turuma and 
seated on the stones under a tree. Ashes are strewn and her 
offence recited ; then the woman confesses. A chicken is 
brought, and her toe touched with it ; its head is pulled off 
and thrown on the ground, and if it does not move the omen 
is good. The chicken is eaten by children, and the woman 
washes after being rubbed with mafoi. 

In some places a woman is head of the society. She may 
not eat food cooked by a woman who has had connection the 
night lie fore, nor sit on the same mat as a young man who 
has had connection the night before. Xo woman is to see 
where she washes, nor to see her head, nor to eat rice that 
was being cooked when the society comes out. 

Tiie mask is called aroii (Plate Y) and the dress of palm 
fibre natal ; it is worn for a dance in the bush at the death 
of the chief. When they " swear," the head woman of the 
society holds in the left hand bells called ewur. Torna 
wood may not lie put on the fire by a member, or he will 
burn himself. 

All Kabenle chiefs have an iron object called kontqii, 
which is used as a bell (Plate III) ; it is struck with a ring. 
The kapor should not lick his thumb when he eats rice, 
because the ring is worn on the thumb. liabenle chiefs are 
called ambai na konteh; other chiefs are ambai na 
qpcjse, chiefs of the elephant's tail, which they send with 
a messenger to authenticate him. 

A Soko man can be made chief and initiated into liauenle 


if he gives up Poro; he pays the money to get mafoi for 
him, and they take him to Turuma. The Kabenle then talk 
to the krifi, and say they wish to make a Soko man chief; 
then the orok takes the konteh and strikes it; bread is 
sprinkled on the stones that represent the krifi, and the 
candidate drinks mafQi in silence. He must not enter the 
Poro bush again. 

Kofo. — The Kofo Society is important in the Limba and 
Sanda Timne countries. They claim to be able to perform 
' : miracles," such as loosing themselves from ropes, cooking 
at the top of a house without fire, passing through doors, 
making themselves invisible, etc., and each member is said to 
have a guardian who helps him. 

They are said to be able to bring leopards and snakes from 
the bush ; but I did not establish whether these are the 
guardians. A Kofo member can cut himself and come out 
from the house unharmed. They shoot at a candidate and 
he dies ; he is then wrapped in a coarse mat and left on the 
road ; if it is the west road, he returns by the east road when 
he comes to life and vice versa. 

Fire should not be pointed at members, nor water thrown 
on them ; a non-member must not eat rice with a Kofo man 
and then shake his hand because the rice is too hot, or the 
.Kofo man cannot eat with him. 

Kofo members are said to punish people by means of 
fahge; they come like a dream and seem to beat a man; 
when he wakes, his body is heavy. They may wait on the 
top of a tree on the road, and as the man passes a 
stick breaks and something drops in his eye and he sees 
the Kofo people. 

A victim goes to a mo rim an and gets a banana stump 
at which he shoots with bow and arrows, and lays the bow 
down at the foot of the stump ; this diminishes the power of 

When two fahge men fight, there is a great wind. 

Katokodo. — The Katokodo Society claim extraordinary 
powers like the Kofo ; but at a meeting of the society at 


which I was present the only " miracle " shown me was the 
passing of a woman's bone hairpin up the nostril. 

The krifi is a stone and a small ant-hill; it is called 
katagbempi and is represented by a man wearing a mask 
with holes, surrounded by cowries and feathers, for the 
eyes and mouth ; he holds a calabash before his mouth when 
he speaks in the town and carries a bull-roarer (Qsip 
Katokodo, the leopard of Katokodo) ; he is said to swallow 
non-members. A four-foot-long horn of cow-skin is used as 
a trumpet ; the members sometimes dance over crossed 

Another society named KambonbrjnkQ exists in places 
where there are blacksmiths, but I obtained no details 
about it. 

In the central Sanda country I found a society called 
Agbaia ; but this seems to be rather a co-operative society 
which aids the chief to entertain strangers, and furnishes a 
cow for sacrifice if a parent of any of the members dies. 

Kumpamatir (see also p. 36) comes out when the rice is 
growing, to protect it from witches, who fall sick when he 
conies out and bleed at the nose ; they are also said to groan 
like Kumpamatir. 

Kumpamatir is said to live near water and to be called by 
the beating of two sticks. If anyone stands so that the 
wind blows from Kumpamatir to him, he will get " crawcraw." 

Kaloko. — A society (?) of unknown purpose is known as 
Kaloko ; they get qnepgl at night and tie all over a person, 
with a bunch in front; they sing, "Kaloko beko"; 
"maionio Kaloko"; "Kaloko is coming"; "we beg 

Boibente is a boys' society ; they fix katap leaf in a 
split stick and put it in their mouths to produce a peculiar 
sound ; this leaf they call the krifi or boibente. 

Kumunko. — Another young men's society is Ankumuiiko ; 
it is simply a dance club and claims no powers of curing ; it 
appears at harvest time. They appear at night and dance 
and beat each other - ; when they sit down, no one must make 


the slightest sound. A man represents the krifi, which is a 
small hole on the east road called ankonto, with sticks 
round it ; a man says " E, konioi" three times, and they 
reply, " wunyu" The human krifi has a grass dress of 
kalolum and carries in his hand a bull-roarer of palm midrib 
with palm-fibre rope; the bullroarer is called "okrifi 
kotoii santok," "the krifi that walks on his nails" (i.e., on 
tiptoe, softly). 

They sing before each door, holding the skin of the throat 
with one hand and striking Adam's apple with the other ; 
the chorus hums in falsetto. 

The "father" is called Anduku ; they bempa at his 
enclosure, which has sand in the middle. The sacrificer is 
the one who initiates boys into the society ; they are beaten 
with small whips. It is not clear whether Duku is the same 
as the krifi. 

Bundu. — Of the women's societies the most important is 
Bundu, which is initiatory in its character. An essential 
feature is the excision of the clitoris, which is, in other negro 
areas, practised as a simple rite not associated with a secret 

A man who enters the Bundu bush may get elephantiasis, 
or his belly swells ; he drinks mafoi and rubs it on his body. 
He is rubbed with white clay and pays a fine of £4. 

Eamena is a woman's society, but men may also join; 
they hang long strings of cowries, and come out when a 
chief is crowned. Like the Eabenle, they cure people who 
violate masam. They have a special house in some places, 
known as Eomari. 

Earuba. — A society known as Earuba belongs to the 
women of the Akwono family : ruba means "blessing" and 
the function it fulfils is to sprinkle the farms with medicine 
to get good rice; the eldest daughter of each woman becomes 
a member. The graves of women who belong to the society 
are near the house and have a scpiare of logs round them 
and a pole stuck in the ground with three rags on the 


The Kure Society is simply for dancing ; a girl joins at 
live or six years of age ; she is dressed for a dance in palm- 
fibre dyed black and wears rattles on her feet ; when they 
have finished the course of four months' tuition they are 
redeemed for £1. 

Other women's societies are Aiyasi and Koliumho. 
Aiyasi is said to wear cowry necklets and caps ornamented 
with cowries. They rub themselves with black stuff when 
they come out. 

In the Bulam country is the Ankoi Society : no one may 
hit a woman of this society on the head with his hand or she 
will faint. When they dance, all doors are " like walls " and 
they have to beg the woman who has '•' hidden " them all. 
They can draw snakes from the bush to the house. 

The Kinki Society is said to have been imported from a 
country three months' journey away to the east, where only 
women live ; each woman has her own house, and when a 
man goes to the country for medicine he stands near the 
water and breaks a stick or throws a stone, and she takes him 
home at night ; they live together till she is pregnant, or, 
according to another account, till the first child is born; if it 
is a male, he is killed and used to make the Suka medicine. 

Koranko. — Bundu was formerly unknown here, as 
among the Limba. But there is a woman's society, called 
SqgQre, which comes out at night in the dry season. 

A man's society is known as Andomba; they use a 
double gong and drum ; iron should not be pointed at this 
society ; when they come out to kill anyone, a member is 
said to be warned by their turning the sword handle back. 

Komoiyare is the tutelar of the Kono Society, which 
comes out at night and picks oranges, roots up cassava, and 
consumes all the vegetables. 

Loko. — The Kuba Society is known as Dubai a. 

Limba. — In this tribe the Kofo and 'Bah bah Societies 
are the most important. 

Plate XVII. 



Recognised offences were comparatively few, though more 
numerous than among tribes more remote from civilisation. 
Murder, rape, theft, arson, assault, disobedience or disrespect 
to the chief or sub-chief, removing landmarks, firing the bush 
too early and cutting palm nuts too soon, or injuring young 
trees, are among the offences mentioned by informants. 

One of the most serious offences was to knock off a 
paramount chief's " crown," which might entail a fine of £80 ; 
beating his drum was forbidden in certain areas only, and 
was punished by a fine of £20 and a cow. 

Among other offences may be mentioned : dying of snake 
bite — the family was fined £8 ; dying of a fall from a palm 
tree ; being killed by a leopard ; but in the latter case the 
town was fined, because the animal must lie a witch. 

Civil eases were dealt with by the sub-chiefs, or the 
paramount chief, according to the importance of the matter. 
The parties state their side of the question, and interminable 
arguments go on over the smallest points. In the case 
outlined below, the debate went on for nearly three days, 
each side being mulcted by the two chiefs who heard it, 
firstly 15s. for the summons and the answer, secondly 4s. for 
subsistence money for the chiefs, and thirdly lO.s. hearing 
fee, in all 29s. each. They also deposited £2 each security 
for the fine to be imposed on the loser, the whole £4 to be 
adjudged to the winner. 

The case was an exceedingly simple one. Mela, a fisher- 
man, had supplied sixpennyworth of fish on credit to Sedu, 
who refused to pay when he was asked for the money. 

Mela reported the matter to Seka, asking him to recover 
the money; Seka received an axe worth Is. and a gown 


worth 2s. 6(7. in satisfaction of the debt of 6d., but refused 
to hand over anything to Mela and denied having received 
anything, when Mela made enquiry. 

Thereupon Mela again approached Sedu and was paid 6c/. 
Sedu, however, said he had been summoned before Se,ka and 
had already paid. Thereupon Mela replied : " I do not care ; 
he refuses to pay me ; you can do with him as you please." 
Thereupon Sedu summoned Seka before Bai Lanteli. 

Instead of filing an answer to this summons, Seka 
summoned Mela, saying that he must return Sedu's money, 
as he, Se,ka, had no quarrel with him. 

After a lengthy hearing the case was given against Mela, 
on the ground that " you cannot crown a chief and then 
uncrown him." 

1 made more than one effort to understand the point of 
view and to discover why Seka was able to summons Mela at 
all, but without success. 

Finally on coming into another chiefdom, I was told by 
the chief, who had some reputation as a jurist, that the 
decision was wholly wrong. 

The remedy for such a wrong judgment is to carry the 
case to another paramount chief ; he sends a present to the 
original judge and he in turn sends the other party to the 
case. The new judge reverses the appeal by fining the loser 
and handing to the winner all the moneys paid in the case. 

In the present case Mela had lost all his money, £3 10s. 
or more, and was totally unable to travel to another 
chiefdom to have his case reopened. 

Murder. — The simple method of an eye for an eye was the 
method of dealing with the murderer in the more remote 
areas. The family of the dead man refused compensation ; the 
murderer was led out and shot by the dead man's brother ; his 
body was allowed to rot. 

If, however, the murderer escaped and compensation were 
paid in his absence, he might return later without 

A more civilised district could kill a murderer only without 


the chief's knowledge ; if the chief heard of the case, each 
party gave a slave to the king, probably as surety for the 
suspension of the quarrel ; a Freetown girl was handed over 
by the chief to the dead man's family and each of the parties 
gave a cow for sacrifice, so that the country might have 
peace ; a share of each cow was given to both parties. 

The woman was called lu mo (trust) or selo (agreement) 
and took over the forbidden marriage degrees of the family 
she was given to. She might even take property if there 
were no male heir. 

A man who murdered his wife had to give a woman of his 
own family as compensation to his wife's family. This sug- 
gests the former prevalence of matrilineal descent ; but as a 
precisely similar rule is found in Australia among tribes that 
reckon descent in the male line, and have, so far as can be 
seen, always so reckoned it, the argument is far from cogent. 

A woman on whose account murder was done was handed 
over to the chief, and he or his son might marry her. 

If a woman killed a man, she was handed over and her 
family fined in addition. 

In some places an independent person was selected to 
shoot the murderer, and hid on the road ; the murderer was 
stripped naked. His own people buried him naked. 

The person handed over to the family of the murdered 
man might be a small boy ; he should not be a brother of the 
murderer; he was known as kabol kaboma (sweeper of the 
grave), and was adopted into the family. If a girl was 
handed over, one of the brothers might marry her. 

In many cases a fine was payable to the chief for the 
blood spilt on the ground. 

If one brother killed another, it was regarded as a family 

If a body were found in the bush, the family (akur) 
concerned buried it and sent people to shout at night, " We 
have found a corpse," and enquire who the culprit was. If 
no reply came, " medicines " were obtained and taken to the 
spot where the body was found, and the same formula recited 


with the addition : " if it is God who killed him, there is 
no palaver : if not, you medicines must find the murderer."' 
After a time, stones were taken to divine if the murderer 
had been "caught." If the murderer confessed, his family 
(akur) was notified and paid £-t to the chief, disclaiming 
responsibility : this was paid to the dead man's family and 
a sacrifice offered. The " medicine " was expected to kill the 

Homicide. — Where malevolent intention was absent, 
responsibility rested as much on the family (akur) as on the 
actual culprit ; the payment might be as little as £4, and 
a cow for sacrifice, shares of which would go both to the 
father's and mother's people of the dead man. 

AVhen a hunter killed a man, he put his gun on the corpse 
before he went to confess. He was often required to swear 
that the matter was an accident. 

A substitute might also be handed over to " sweep the 
grave " in the case of accidental killing. 

Theft. — A thief might be flogged or sold or his hands cut 
off; it was commonly regarded as legal to shoot at a thief who 
came in the night, though some were of opinion that a hue 
and cry should be raised. 

An habitual thief, male or female, would be sold by his 
family (akur). 

Theft from the family was less heinous than theft from 
outsiders ; the offender might be stocked, even an elder brother, 
for "aiyoka antase toi," "cassava is never too old to burn." 

The " stocks '' were also a recognised punishment for minor 
thefts from outsiders ; the actual penalty was that the thief 
was fastened to a post on a head man's veranda. 

Among small thefts were reckoned taking a goat, a few 
sticks of cassava, a little rice, cloth, though rice-stealing 
generally was regarded as a serious matter. 

Kidnapping, stealing a cow, a number of goats, or a bushel 
of rice, were major thefts. 

Repayment of treble the value, e.g. three cows for one, 
enabled the thief to escape the penalty of his deeds. 


A thief was sometimes called kalolum, because he put 
kalolum grass on his face as a mask. 

Susu. — A murderer was shot or clubbed ; but no blood 
should run on the ground or the executioner would die. 

If the murderer ran, compensation (faxa nafuli) might 
be paid ; a slave was handed over but not adopted, for 
adoption was not recognised, though a good slave might be 
made guardian to young children. 

A woman who committed a murder was not killed. 

A thief in the same town was chained and redeemed by his 
family for £1, if he had taken nothing; otherwise the price 
was £4. 

A thief or troublesome man might be ostracised 
(imasuyi iyitera), and a sacrifice was necessary before he 
could be taken back. 

Limba. — Murder. — A murderer was killed : no compensa- 
tion could be accepted ; fighting might take place and one 
informant had seen forty-three people killed, on one occasion, 
in a town of ninety houses. If the murderer ran, his relatives 
would be attacked and killed. 

In case of homicide one cow was sacrificed, and one given 
to the chief ; compensation £4 and one cow was paid to the 
relatives. At Bumban a slave was paid, who took the dead 
man's place and even took over his wife ; but according to 
my informant he would not inherit property. The body was 
buried by the chief. 

Theft. — A thief is fined treble the value of the stolen 
object ; but if it was of small value, one or two cows might be 
demanded, or the thief might be flogged. 

For the second offence the man might be sold, but if he 
ran and his relatives paid £4, he could return. 



Slaves were divided into house slaves and ordinary slaves ; 
the ranks of the latter were recruited from captives in war 
and occasionally from pawns pledged in respect of a debt and 
not redeemed. 

A house or domestic slave (oliso) was born in his master's 
house and could only be sold for a grave offence ; they should 
be treated like sons and might get land from their masters 
which their children would inherit, unless they were sold for 
misl ichaviour. 

Slaves are, however, usually inferior to freeborn in physical 
development, and though the lot of the house slaves, who 
alone survive under present conditions, is doubtless better 
than that of ordinary slaves, they can hardly be considered 
as equals, mentally or physically, of the rest of the 

In addition to the supply of slaves for home use, a 
considerable export trade existed to the Susu country and 
Futa, and one of my informants stated that as many as 
twenty slave-traders were in Mabum at one time for the 
purchase of slaves ; the ordinary price was £4, but £5 would 
be paid for a pregnant woman. It was generally considered 
that a bought slave was superior to one captured in war, for 
the latter would never settle clown. 

A slave was stocked for four days after he was purchased 
and had to name his country and his parents ; bread was 
sacrificed and he was sworn on it not to run away; but he 
was not trusted for a year, and two years would elapse before 
he went to reside in a slave village. 

There was some difference of opinion as to whether a slave 
could buy a wife for himself or not ; some said that he could 
do so or might even marry a free woman, paying bride-price 


for her ; but there was no confirmation of this ; in fact in 
some places my informants declared that the slave could not 
purchase a slave wife, but should receive her from his master; 
in no case could a slave marry his master's daughter. 

It was, however, recognised in some places that a slave 
could purchase for himself a slave who would take his place ; 
in that case the original slave became a confidential servant 
of the master and was in much the same position as if he 
were redeemed by his parents and remained, as sometimes 
happened, a member of his master's household. It often 
happened that a confidential servant acted as guardian to his 
master's young children, but some informants were of 
opinion that such a practice was contrary to usage. 

It was generally held that a slave could not redeem 
himself, even though he had attained some degree of riches 
and did not work ; he might, however, give money secretly 
to his parents to redeem him. 

A master could free a slave by sacrificing a sheep and 
handing the freedman over to his relatives or retaining him 
as a friend ; the slave wife of a freedman would not alter her 
status, though some thought that all the children would be 
free. Some informants were of opinion that a freed slave 
could marry his master's daughter, even though he was born 
in the house ; in the opinion of others they were brother and 
sister and could not marry. It was, however, clear that a 
freedman could marry a free woman ; one informant thought 
a freed slave would have to redeem his own children before 
they became free; the freedman himself occupied the position 
of a son and was joint owner with his former master's 

From this it is but a step to adopting an heir ; a childless 
man could buy a slave and " put him in his own belly," so 
that he became free : the brothers of the man could raise no 
objection. His adopted son would, however, be heir to his 
personal property only and not to anything that was due to 
him from a brother's estate. 

One informant said that to adopt a slave it was necessary 


to make rice bread and rub it on him. A brother's daughter 
is the proper wife for an adopted son, doubtless to smooth 
over difficulties with regard to property. 

In some places, however, adoption was not recognised, and, 
in default of relatives, a chief or head man became guardian 
of a man's children. 

It was generally recognised that a man could marry a 
female slave or buy one for the purpose of marriage. All the 
man's relatives assembled and he sacrificed a sheep and rice ; 
all laid their hands on the sacrifice and the sacrificer 
announced : " My dead parents, I sacrifice a sheep because I 
marry this slave of mine ; I hope I may get children ; 1 have 
set her free." Thereupon the sheep's throat would be cut. 
A freed wife's parents were not set free. 

In another case the sacrifice was offered to the krifi after 
the birth of the first child, and the food was dished separately 
for the father's father's and the father's mother's families. 

The sheep was sacrificed in addition to the bread used for 
the male slave because of the children that were expected. 

A slave got a farm of his own if he behaved well ; as his 
master was responsible for feeding him, at any rate for as 
many days in the week as the slave worked for him, his rice 
was his own and he could utilise most of it for his own 
purposes, though a tribute of rice was due to his master. 

Although, in theory, a slave's property is his master's, my 
informants were of opinion that the master should regard 
himself as trustee for the slave's children. 

A slave worked for himself on his free day or days, 
which may be one, two or even three in some localities ; some 
informants said a slave had no rest day unless he was sick ; 
but this probably refers only to the first years of his servitude. 
It was generally agreed that no master had the right to force 
a slave to work on his free day or days ; hence the rule that 
a slave had a free hand with the produce of his farm after 
paying tribute to his master. 

A man might give a slave to his wife, and her children 
would inherit him ; he would follow the wife to a new 

Plate XVIII. 


husband, provided she did not marry out of the family ; a 
daughter might, however, inherit such a slave and would then 
be at liberty to take him to her husband's house. 

Another informant, however, thought that slaves were 
shared equally among the children, but would not remain 
with the wives after the husband's death. 

A runaway slave was reclaimed by a payment either to 
the chief or to the man in whose house he was ; but in the 
former case a time limit of a month was fixed. 

If a slave murdered a free man, the family could claim two 
or three slaves, who would be regarded as sons ; or might 
receive a money payment, together with a cow for sacrifice on 
the grave, aud a substitute who took the place of the murdered 
man ; the substitute would inherit if there were no other 
sons ; otherwise, according to my informants, he would get 
nothing unless he received his share before the father's death. 

A slave murderer might, however, be killed, if the family of 
the dead man refused to accept compensation. In this case, 
neither the dead man nor the slave was buried. 

Susu. — The condition of slaves was not markedly different. 
A man was free on Thursday and Friday and fed himself on 
those days ; he was responsible for his wife's food and she fed 
his children, till they went to their master, at the age of 
eleven or twelve, if the woman was not in the same owner- 

A slave could be freed ; and a man was at liberty to marry 
a girl born in his house, though a house slave was so far one 
of the family that a thief could not be sold. 




Personal property is, over a great part of the Tiinne country, 
very limited in quantity ; enquiries into the rule of succession 
by means of genealogies were fruitless, for the simple reason 
that informants had inherited little or nothing from their 
fathers. As a natural result they were frequently unable to 
formulate any clear statement for lack of personal experience. 

It is clear that, generally speaking, a distinction is drawn 
between personal property and family, or inherited, property. 
The former descends to a son or an adopted son, the latter 
goes to a brother or (elder) brother's children, or father's 
brother's children ; but it is a general rule that an absentee 
loses his rights, and that the eldest son by each wife is alone 
entitled to succeed. 

As regards personal property, all the sons seem to receive 
a portion, but the eldest gets the largest share, and, provided 
he is not himself in tutelage to a father's brother or other 
guardian, is trustee of all the property ; he will hand over a 
portion to his brothers when they marry, and also purchase 
their first wives for them. 

The age at which a man is held to be capable of managing 
property varies within wide limits ; a capable man may be 
regarded as sufficiently responsible at twenty, but thirty to 
thirty-five is considered a normal age. One white-bearded 
man of sixty, the second son of his father, informed me that 
he was working for his brother, who had charge of the land 
and kola trees ; he hoped to receive a share when he was old 
enough. He was himself the father of three sons, the 
youngest of whom was married and had two children. At 
the present day the eldest son is accustomed to claim to 
control the property, and apply, not always with success, to 
the District Commissioner to support him. It is quite clear 


that there are no hard and fast rules of inheritance, and this 
fact should be recognised in administering the property of 

A considerable amount of property may be held jointly, 
and probably the practice prevails more especially in the 
south, where trading is lucrative ; in the Sanda country joint 
property hardly includes more than land and trees. 

A member of one family informed me that four of his 
father's forty sons had been entrusted with family capital to 
the extent of £400, and in seven years, apart from drawings, 
over £2,500 had been made. This was apparently a family 
fund which could be drawn on in case of need. 

Certain members of more than one family were specifically 
declared to be wastrels, and to have been excluded, either by 
the father or by the family, from any participation in these 
advantages. In one family a long list of sons was given who 
had remained unmarried, because they were too lazy to work. 
If the eldest son is unsatisfactory, younger sons may get a 
bigger share. In one place it was held that slaves might 
attach themselves to the children of a wife who had been of 
great assistance to her husband, even if their children were 
not entitled to succeed by ordinary rule. 

A Yonibana informant gave me the following account of 
customs of inheritance in a family of brothers. 

" A brother is guardian of his brother's children and 
receives one-fourth of the property himself, not as guardian, 
but because he helped {i.e., worked for) his brother ; this 
would, however, only apply in the case of a younger 

" If three brothers live together, and the two elder die 
before the third, the children of the survivor will take his 
property when he dies, plus one-fourth of the property of the 
two elder brothers. The whole of the property is, however, in 
charge of the oldest son, irrespective of whether his father 
was senior or junior to the other two." 

The precedence among heirs is as follows : The sons come 
first, then the father's brothers of the whole blood, then those 

m 2 


by another mother. Daughters appear to rank next after 
them, and then the sons of the father's brothers. But there 
is some doubt as to the exact order, as no specific case occurs 
in the genealogies. It is not unnatural that where there is 
much property there are also abundance of heirs, as property 
implies a sufficiency of wives. 

Where no man of the same family can be found, the clan, 
or the chief (or head man), take the property. 

Where a daughter succeeds, her male children or those of 
her sisters are the eventual heirs. As a rule, a daughter 
gets cooking pots only ; but, in the case of a large estate, 
money, cows, etc., may fall to her share. A married daughter 
who succeeds in the absence of male heirs may bring her 
husband to her father's house. 

As a rule a daughter who leaves the town relinquishes her 
share ; but they sometimes lease farm land to others for a 
nominal sum ; if more were paid, it might be regarded as a 
sale of the land, though native law does not recognise it as 

Occasionally, succession to property through the mother 
appears in the genealogies, in one case as a claim to the land 
of the mother's brothers, in another of the mother's father's 
father's land, but in both cases no nearer heirs were known. 

In one case I found a dead man's house held in trust by 
the widow's father's brother ; it was to be given to her second 
husband. The first husband was, however, a stranger, and 
the case does not indicate any law of matrilineal succession. 
In a second case the conditions were similar, but the wife 
was said to own the land, and the husband, who was still 
alive but an absentee, was regarded as the owner of the 

It may be noted that even if the heir finds no property 
coming to him, he is responsible both for the debts and the 
obligations of the deceased ; he must, for example, purchase 
wives for his sons. 

Perishable property is shared among the father's brothers 
of the dead man ; some of the rice is consumed by the 


guardian and the children, some sown, and the produce 
handed over to the children at full age. 

In the case of live stock, some of the increase should go to 
the guardian in recognition of his care of the estate. 

If the dead man was paying bride-price, the bride would 
fall to the father's own brother. 

In the case of twins, each takes half the share that would 
have fallen to an individual heir. 

Adoption was recognised in certain areas only. 

Susu. — Inheritance. — I recorded no genealogies and did 
not test the statements of my informants, but they agreed 
that the eldest brother by the same father takes a man's 
property; then in succession his children, the man's own 
sons, the males of his father's or mother's families, and finally 
his own daughters ; but one informant put the daughters 
next the sons and made them share with the paramount 
chief, who took the house, amongst other things, and handed 
it over to a stranger without payment. 

A son succeeded at the age of twenty-five ; and the para- 
mount chief, acting as guardian, would get him a wife before 
then, who would pass to a family " near " him if he died. 

Loko. — Inheritance. — No genealogies were recorded, but 

1 DO 

informants stated that the eldest son succeeded to his father's 


Generally speaking, land is private property, if we except 
that which is attached to a chiefship or in some other way 
held as a trust ; it descends in the male line, the eldest son 
as a rule parcelling it out to his brothers, who become owners ; 
in some places the father is said to make farms for each of 
his wives, to which their children eventually succeed. 

Land may be loaned, in the presence of witnesses, like 
other property, and either a small money payment made or 
a tribute of from half to one bushel of rice for a farm of 
ordinary size. But if the chief applies for land he pays no 


rent, though he, perhaps, gives some rice as an act of grace; 
the matter is arranged through a sub-chief. 

Land thus loaned may pass finally into the hands of the 
borrowers it" they behave well and the owner does not need 
the land. 

Where land is borrowed from a relative, who may be on 
the father's or the mother's side, property in it may pass in 
comparatively few years. 

Pawning of land is recognised in s< >me places ; a term may 
be fixed, perhaps till the rice is cut, and £2 or more would 
be payable to the lender, who would retain the bush till the 
payment of principal and interest was made, and, in case of 
default, if he wished, make another farm four or five years 
later. A made farm cannot be pawned, though rice may be 
sold before it is cut ; in this case the owner of the farm, not 
the purchaser, reaps the crop. 

In the neighbourhood of Freetown the rent for an ordinary 
farm was stated to be one bushel of rice, some palm oil, a 
fowl, and four shillings, to be paid yearly. Here, too, land 
can be sold, and £4 would purchase a farm of ordinary size. 
The same area would be pawned for £2 or less. 

There is a certain amount of evidence that clearing of 
virgin forest was held to confer ownership ; but as there is 
no old forest left in the Timne area, the point is of no 
practical importance. 

Big trees serve as boundaries of large plots ; on the farms 
sticks and rubbish are utilised to mark off each man's 

Round the towns are usually tracts of uncut bush, which 
belongs to the head man ; it may be taken for house land, 
but is preserved as far as possible as a safeguard against bush 
fires spreading to the houses. 

A woman who leaves her husband can claim to farm her 
father's bush, if he has no sons. 

A stranger obtains land, usually after a twelvemonth, from 
the paramount chief, or, at the chief's direction, from his 
host. He, and in some places his children, may be expelled 


if there is any trouble ; but the grandchildren have acquired 
the rights of natives — obviously because, as a rule, they are 
the children of women of the district and cannot be expelled. 

At the same time it is recognised that a wastrel or trouble- 
some person can be pawned to teach him manners : this can 
be done only with his own consent, but as he can be fettered 
until he gives his consent, there is not much choice allowed 
him in the matter. 

The heir of landed property is the same as the heir to 
other property ; the eldest son holds land in trust ; if there 
are no sons, the elder brother of the deceased holds it for the 
daughters ; if there are no brothers, the daughters can hold it 
in their own right. 

The chief holds (a) farm and house land as chief ; (b) farm 
(and house) land as individual ; (c) uncultivated bush, such as 
the "town bush" and bush held sacred to the krifi, and has 
(d) dominium over the whole chiefdom, though he cannot 
dispossess any individual owner at will. 

House land is owned individually like farm land ; in some 
places a son rebuilds his mother's house in his father's com- 
pound when the latter dies : when he marries he builds a 
house for himself, but returns to his mother's house at her 
death. This course is followed only in the case of a woman 
already old, who would not go to another husband. 

The father's house is naturally occupied by the eldest son. 

In general, trees belong to the owner of the land, unless 
they are planted on strange land by permission. Palm trees, 
however, are common property ; but no one can go on a farm 
before the rice is cut, except the owner. A close time is 
frequently fixed by the chief, both for palm nuts and kola. 
Palm wine can also be procured from any tree after the 
harvest. This freedom, however, is restricted, both in 
respect of nuts and palm wine, to residents ; casual strangers 
must ask permission and give a share to the owner of the 

In Mabum, where the Mohammedan element is very 
strong, and a portion of the town are immigrants, all palm 


trees belong to the owner of the bush, and no nuts can be 
cut without permission ; but any owner retains property in 
the trees on land he loans to others. 

Permission is asked in some places under Freetown influ- 
ence ; but at Magbile anyone may cut subject to a payment 
of five heads to the chief ; the oil is extracted by the sub- 
chief or head man, who keeps the kernels. 

The only other tree of importance is the kola, the nuts of 
which were worth in normal times 3s. 6d. per hundred. 
Property in kola trees may pass to a daughter, and she sends 
for the nuts when she wants money ; her sons succeed to the 
trees and come and clear the ground round them. 

Kola may be planted in the common bush or on private 
land ; a seedling in " big bush " may be claimed by clearing 
the ground ; as a rule a witness is required when trees are 
planted along the road in the common bush, or at the water- 

Other fruit trees in which individual property is recog- 
nised are lime, orange, banana and mango. Akent (Baphia 
vinifera) is valuable as the source of piassava. 

There seems to be a custom of sending oranges to the 
married daughter of a family ; but, as a rule, marriage means 
that a woman resigns her share in the family trees. 

Koranko. — Land. — Customs with regard to land seem to 
be entirely different in this tribe, for private ownership of 
farm land is unknown — at any rate at Mabqnto, where my 
enquiries were made — and anyone may take an old farm and 
plant ground-nuts, though the former owner, who has had a 
rice-farm for one year, can claim to say how much he will 
reserve for his own use. House-land is apparently private 
property, though anyone may take the site of a broken-down 
house. A stranger who built on it would, however, be under 
the son of the former owner, if the son chose to build near. 

Trees. — Palm-trees are common property, save those near 
a House ; orange-trees are also free to all, though apparently 
the owner of a house can pick fruit from a tree close at hand 
before the tabu is raised. Bananas are privately owned, but 


can be declared common property in certain areas — e.g., on 
the site of an old town. 

Limba. — Land is mostly in private hands, save for certain 
sacred places, chiefly bush and barren spots that cannot be 
cultivated. On one side of Kabinkolo is sacred bush., which 
may not be entered by women and uncircumcised boys ; on 
the other side the bush belongs to the town. Land appears 
to be scarce, as some people have enough bush only for two 
farms, and plant rice and fundi in alternate years. 

At Bumban a man takes the farm and house that belonged 
to his mother, and younger sons get land from the eldest. 
Daughters cannot transmit land to their sons. 

Trees are the property of the landowner, and palm-trees 
are no exception ; they appear to be scarce. The chief 
claims a tribute of oil and kernels. 

Other trees must be planted in the town or behind the 
house ; kola and mango alone can be planted on the side of 
the road, and kola is also found in the town bush and near 
the water- side. 


Refractory debtors are dealt with by means of " medicine " 
(see p. 81), by the Pqro or Maneke (Konto) societies, by 
summons before the chief or by private justice, i.e., selling 
the debtor as a slave. 

A case was cited to me by a man who appealed to Konto 
to relieve him of his debts ; when the Maneke society came 
out, they appear to have gone to the debtor's house ; he 
climbed the centre pole of the house and escaped, because 
the members of the Maneke society were carrying sticks. 
After jumping down from the house, he swam a river and 
was finally declared free of debt ; but my informant could 
not explain the process. 

Another method is for the chief to loan the necessary 
funds to the debtor, relying upon his power of seizing the 
debtor or his heirs if the money is not repaid. It should be 
remembered that debts are inherited like assets, and that the 


absence of property does not relieve a man's heirs from 
responsibility for his debts. 

The creditor might seize a debtor and sell him, or a debtor 
might sell himself in satisfaction of a debt, or pawn one or 
more of his children, or pawn other property ; or, in substitu- 
tion for a cow that he owned, take a bull, handing over the 
cow to a third person, the owner of the bull, which he sold 
to liquidate the debt ; this done, he endeavoured to procure 
another bull, in order to recover his cow ; the object of this 
procedure was to avoid selling the cow, which was more 
valuable than a bull. 

AVhen a stranger incurs a debt, the man who grants him 
land is his surety, and, if necessary, the chief pays the debt 
from the funds of the grantor. 

One informant thought that a debt could not be handed 
over in satisfaction of another debt ; but this opinion was 
not confirmed. 

A man might pawn himself or his children, but not his 
wife ; the recognised sum was £2 to £4, but one informant 
placed the figure much higher. 

If the pawn died, the debt was not extinguished. If an 
important man pawned his son, leopard's teeth might be tied 
to his wrist, or a key in the case of ordinary people ; the 
wearing of this was not explained. 

A pawn was called s eke me kQiikoniuya. The term for 
the loan might be only one year. A wife would return to 
her parents if her husband pawned himself, and they might 
redeem the husband. 

A pawn was sent back to his father if he were lazy or sick, 
and the debt, of course, remained; he might visit his father 
for some time by permission ; if he worked well he might 
receive a wife from his master. 

A girl might also be pawned, but would usually be redeemed 
at the age for marriage ; the master would not allow her to 
marry a free man otherwise, though he might take her to 
wife himself. 

A child might be pawned at the age of seven. 


If necessary, a man's brother would redeem a pawned 
child without expecting repayment, for " if you get, it's his ; 
if you get trouble, it's his.'' 

Animals were rarely pawned apparently. Cows formed 
an exception ; the broker called on the owner to redeem it 
before calving, or extra payment was necessary. 

If a cow died, the body had to be carried to the owner, 
who was notified if it were stolen or taken by a leopard. 

Inanimate objects might also be pawned, and were at the 
disposal of the pawnee ; a term would be arranged for 
repayment, and the article forfeited if the arrangement were 
not carried out. Damage to the pawned article had to be 
made good. 

Loans were made for no fixed term, and in the absence of 
a definite agreement no interest was payable ; a small pay- 
ment (rowanokum), however, might be given in acknow- 

Security was not necessary, but the money was handed 
over in the presence of a witness, who might be the lender's 
wife. A surety (kabun) might, however, be called in, and 
he received the money from the lender. The word kabun 
means " beam of a house." 

Where interest was payable, it might be 25 or 50 per 
cent, per annum, or be payable only if the term passed 
without repayment. 

Susu. — Fawning. — A man could pawn himself and 
extinguish the debt of £6* in four years, or he could pawn his 
son and repay the debt before he was free. 



The most important crop is rice, of which many varieties 
are known ; guinea-corn, millet, sesame, maize, cassava, and 
ground-nuts (planted by women) are also major articles of 
cultivation. Among women's vegetables may be mentioned 
tomatoes (matamba), beans (elil), sweet potatoes (okro), 
' ' garden eggs " (m a 1 u 1 a, j a k a t o, m a k o b q k q b o, m a k u n t, 
etc.), leaves for soup (kabete, akimban), and others. 
AYnmen also make swamp (potopoto) farms, which entail 
less work. The return may be fivefold, and two crops can be 
raised from the same patch. 

Peni, a Digitaria species, is often sown in an old rice- 
farm. It is sown broadcast, and cut in August ; they garner 
it like rice, and dry it on a "fence " or "tree." When it is 
dry, the grains are trodden out. There are no rites con- 
nected with the cultivation. 

For a large rice-farm thirty men and boys may do two 
days' work in clearing the bush, and three or four men, a 
month later, put the dried brushwood together for burning 
in five or six days. When the rice is to be sowed, thirty 
men may be needed for hoeing and the same number of 
women for breaking the sods, each for one or two days. 
Two or three boys watch for a week till the seed germinates. 
A month later weeding will occupy seven women for four 
days, the weeds being usually placed in the forks of the 
stumps of saplings left in the ground. 

The same stumps are used for drying the rice when it is 
reaped. It is cut off short below the ear and tied in small 
sheaves, which are afterwards (a) hung on a " tree" (a bant a), 
i.e., a horizontal pole; (b) stacked beneath the guard- hut, 
in which the boys sit, while the rice is ripening, to scare the 


birds with stones and mud-balls slung far and wide ; and 
(c) piled in small stacks (kamom), head outwards. If the 
rains are very heavy, a house (ankor) may be built. 

Before it is threshed it may be put for four days in the 
abanki (a round bin of sticks driven into the ground), and 
made tight with leaves, such as is also used for palm-nuts to 
mellow ; then it is threshed on the robete, or kadir, mats 
beneath it, and fanned to clean it of dust. The beating- 
stick is called korump, the fan kot^me. 

Some people tread out the rice. 

In some areas it is the practice to leave the rice in the 
fields ; in others it is brought to a granary, raised on posts, in 
the town. In the latter case, if, as often happens, fire breaks 
out in the dry season, all the rice may be destroyed, especi- 
ally if the village is small. 

The amount of seed needed for a large farm is about four 
bushels, which in a good year should return forty, in a bad 
year twenty-five-fold, in productive areas. 

In the north, where the land is not so good, and grass- 
land — less productive than bush — is sometimes put under 
cultivation, the ratio of produce to seed is far smaller, and 
the result is considerable scarcity of seed. 

At Kuntaia one man stated that he had got sixteen 
shillings' worth of rice, and was keeping half for seed ; a 
good year would have produced 25 per cent. more. To clear 
the farm, work was done by himself, his wife, two small 
boys, and twenty-two helpers. 

Another man got £2 10s. worth, and was keeping half 
for seed; a third got sixteen shillings' worth, and did not 
know how much seed he would have. 

A fourth man stated that he was living on bush yams, as 
he had got nothing from his farms ; in former years he had 
got £8 or £9 worth. From £2 worth of seed he had got £4 
worth of rice, but from that he fed three brothers and three 
women ; for a boy does not begin to make his own farm till he 
is twenty or has got a wife ; some even wait till a child is born. 

His guinea-corn, which should return nearly twenty-fold, 

J 74 

was bad, and he had got nothing from four shillings' worth 
of seed. He had made his farm in the grass field, and 
planted no maize, as it does not grow well there ; his cassava 
was eaten by bush pig. 

His millet (tqbqio) had not flourished. Only his peni 
was fair : he had got sixfold return from four shillings' 
worth of seed. 

Enquiry showed that a good deal of this man's troubles 
arose from lack of initiative. Except the chief, no one in 
the district thought it worth while to fence his farm as a 
protection against wild animals, and this particular indi- 
vidual alleged that it was impossible for one man to fence 
a farm. The idea of co-operation in such work had not 
occurred to him or others. 

The workers on a man's farm are himself and his wives 
and children ; his unmarried, and in some cases also his 
married, brothers ; his sons-in-law ; and helpers, who receive 
their food and a trifling wage. 

Some of the rites connected with farming have been 
noticed under the heading satka ; a brief survey of them in 
order is given. When the first rains fall, the farmer makes 
rice-bread and offers it with prayers for abundance of rice ; 
then bread and water are sprinkled over the matchets, 
which are collected in the compound ; some bread is put on 
the top of a stump, and no work is done on that day. 

In some places a stone is put clown in the centre of the 
farm with four kola under it and a fowl or bread offered. 
Then the saplings are cut. 

There do not appear to lie any rites connected with firing 
the farm; but before hoeing they sacrifice rice, which is 
eaten by all workers and passers-by. 

After hoeing, a fan may be offered on the stone and then 
hung in the farm to blow away evil influences. Rice is then 
sow r n broadcast. 

No further ceremonies are needed till harvest approaches, 
if we except the bqmpa rites (see p. 67) against witches, 
etc., which also precede the hoeing. 


When the rice is ripe, a fowl may be sacrificed and some 
rice eaten, a handful of which is put on a stone in the road 
to the farm for krifi that want to spoil the rice, and for the 
anfom af i (dead people), who come out again, or rice may be 
offered on the graves : " from the bush which you left, and 
we farm now, we want to take rice." Some of the new rice 
may also be beaten and carried into the town, to be put at 
the head of the owner's sleeping-place for two nights and 
then shared among the household. 

On the first day that rice is cut, a young daughter of the 
farmer may cut rice and beat it, and the owner goes alone to 
the stone and sacrifices some of it. 

Elsewhere leaves are cut in the bush and scmeezed into 
water till scum collects ; the rice is put in the water ; a fowl 
is brought and allowed to pick up the rice, as a rite of 
divination, to see if the ancestors are glad at the cutting of 
the rice. The fowl is killed after the harvest and all the 
people eat. 

Before collecting the rice, a satka or bempa may be 
made for the krifi and witches, by putting a calabash of 
water, an ant-heap, burnt rice husks, and rice-bread at the 
entrance to the farm. 

An axe used for felling big trees may be put down on the 
threshing-floor, and bread offered before threshing. 

Before taking the rice to the granary, they may sacrifice 
with water and a stone in a pot, which is put on the top of 
the rice and transferred to the granary with it. 

AVlien the farm-work is finished and the rice brought in, 
each man, in some places, brings a little rice and cooks it 
in public, because children and old people should eat and ask 
a blessing on the rice. Any rice left over should be given to 
the oldest person. Just as the prayer of a chief was regarded 
as specially powerful, so the intercession of old people is held 
to be more beneficial. 

Palm wine is made in some places by half severing the 
trunk ; this involves the destruction of the tree. 

Elsewhere a hole is bored just below the branches, and, in 


a young tree, palm wine is obtainable in three days ; the 
yield goes on for twenty days. 

Palm-oil is made as follows : A small round " basket " is 
made of sticks driven into the ground and lined with leaves ; 
this is filled with partially dried palm nuts and covered with 
leaves ; heavy stones are put on the top, and it is left for five 
days. Then the nuts are brazed in mortars, and the husks 
loosened and afterwards boiled; to the oil obtained in this 
way is added the oil got from the boiling water poured over 
the nuts. The nuts are cracked and the kernels boiled to 
extract nut-oil. 

Plate XIX. 


Plate XX. 





Pottery. — Pottery is seldom made in the Timne country 
at the present day, and the woman who undertook to give a 
demonstration had not potted for over twenty years according 
to her own account. 

The clay (yofta) mixed with water was pounded on a flat 
board (nab en) and picked over for stones; rolls of clay 
(bo Ian) were made with the right hand only, and then a 
base (akoto kambQl), the top of which was formed with the 
hand (Plate XIX) ; rolls were applied one by one to the base 
and finally the pot was taken off the boards and put on some 

The outside was smoothed with a knife and the inside 
pressed and thinned with a piece of calabash. Finally the 
top was cut with a piece of midrib of palm and made smooth 
and a rim formed with a wet cloth and piece of calabash 
(Plate XX). After drying in the sun for three days, it was 
put over a few burning leaves to hasten the drying and 
finally the base, which was a solid block, was cut off, and 
the pot was ready for burning. 

In the Mqndi country pot-making is a regular business 
in some places. The prices were given as follows : — 

(1) Pot cover (ke, bo) ... 1-2 leaves of tobacco. 

(2) Small pot (few u) .... 3d. 

(3) „ „ (keve) ... 3d. 
with large lip. 

(4) Oil pot (dumb u) ... 3d. to 2s. 

(5) Water pot (dumali)... „ „ „ 

The work was begun by making a cone (poga ti) six 
inches high, with a hole in the centre, which was enlarged 
bit by bit ; then the outside, which was left rough at first, 



was scraped till no trace remained of the rolls of which it had 
been built up. 

The cone was put upon a board, on which water was 
freely sprinkled to ensure free rotation of the pot in working ; 
and the rolls were applied in succession to the hollowed 
cone, which now took the form of the lower part of a pot. 
The outside was scraped from the bottom upwards and the 
inside worked with the fingers and a piece of calabash to thin 
the wall of the pot ; then a wet rag was taken to enlarge the 
top of the neck and make a lip. 

A large pot was made with the base on a piece of calabash 
which rested on a lump of wet clay ; this ensured stability 
and mobility. 

The clay for all pots was dry and powdery before water 
was added ; it was then trodden and pounded to ensure 
uniformity of consistence. 

After drying for some days the pots were heated over a 
small fire and the drying hearth prepared of two layers of 
wood, crossways.. On this pots were piled, and round them 
wood standing on end. 

Burning continued for about half an hour and then the 
pots were withdrawn with a long pole and turned black with 
a decoction of jeko tree. 

Fishing. — The streams and rivers of Sierra Leone are 
extraordinarily rich in fish, and when the waters are low 
women catch large quantities of small fish in nets that they 
push along the bottom. 

Anyone may fish in a river, but at times, when a woman 
marries, her people send fish to the river of the town she 
goes to, that she may claim to take her catch by night. 

Apart from this there are methods which demand concerted 
action on the part of the community ; a portion of the river 
may be dammed when the water is low and fish poison used 
to stupefy all that are enclosed within the walls. 

Nets are used from eighty to one hundred yards long ; 
smaller ones, with stones as sinkers, are forty yards long. To 
work these the people of four towns come together and the 


nets are stretched from bank to bank and then down the 
river. A hundred fish may be caught at each draught. 

In the smaller stream fish traps and fences are prepared in 
the dry season ; such traps are individual property, and a 
trap put down gives the owner a claim to the spot another 
year, even if the land is not his own. 

ASTRONOMY, etc. — Names are used for the morning star 
(Lolo) and evening star (B'ankabala), and the latter is 
said to be the wife of the moon. 

The only constellation they recognise is Masare, which 
seems to be the Pleiades or (and) Orion, but no one could 
point out Masare, and such different accounts are given of 
the time when it is visible that the identification is 

They say that Masare stands like a man and shoots at 
birds or at a sacred bush in which are buffalo. When he 
shoots, meteors begin to fall and the rains begin. This 
suggests that the season is April. 

On the other hand, the identification of the bag { = sword), 
and the statement that one side is paralysed, correspond so 
nearly to Orion that the season is of less importance. 

When meteors fall, a spectator must say, " I don't see you 
alone, I see you with many people," or he will soon die. 
Meteors are, however, confused with hail, which is mixed 
with water and put on the rice seed. 

An eclipse is called Yankoba (from an Arabic word), and 
they say that the sun swallows the moon : " Each lias its own 
road and when they are trying to get to their places for the 
New Year, people come out and dance " ; how far this refers 
to an eclipse is not clear. 

Another account says the moon is a king and the sun a 
great warrior who holds the moon. When the moon dies 
Kurumasaba buries it in the sky. 

Another informant thought that something like a cat 
caught the moon ; they beat drums to drive it away. This 
cat was identified with Yankoba in one place. 

No one sleeps during an eclipse ; they say, " Let Yankoba 

n 2 


leave the moon alone " ; if someone sleeps and the moon is 
swallowed altogether, that person will die. Women sing Poro 
songs and men sing Bundu songs during an eclipse. 

A halo means the death of a chief (sun) or evil in the 
country (moon). 

The rainbow comes from an ant-hill, in which is a krii'i ; 
no one should point at it or he will become " red," i.e. leprous. 
The rainbow is put up by the krifi to keep the rain from his 
dwelling place, for he has put his clothes and rice out to dry. 
A man who stands on such an ant-hill becomes mad if the 
rainbow comes out, unless he has " four eyes." 

Another account of the rainbow says that it is Bai Farama's 

No explanation of a whirlwind (konkofslfol) is given; 
but no one would dare to throw stones at it ; it is G od's 

Susu. — Stone axes are occasionally found and are known 
as gal ainyi berai (lightning?). A small wedge, presented 
by Alimami Suri of Somaia, was dark like plumbago, and 
somewhat greasy, with well-marked striations. 

Koranko. — A stone " with five sides " is said to be picked 
up where lightning strikes. A dog comes with the flash and 
jumps round for a few minutes and then vanishes ; it has a 
quantity of hair. 



By Dr. 0. Stapf. 

So far no attempt has been made to describe systematically 
the principal features of the vegetation of Sierra Leone or to 
analyse it according to its composition and relationship with 
the great floral regions of Tropical Africa. Some rough ideas 
may be gathered from Scott Elliot's Report on the District 
traversed by the Anglo-French Boundary Commission 
(Colonial Reports, Miscellaneous, No. 3, 1893), and from 
Dr. Chevalier's observations made near the source of the 
Niger and close to the Sierra Leone boundary. A great deal of 
information could also be obtained from a study of the volumes 
of the Flora of Tropical Africa and the ample material which 
since their publication has accumulated at Kew. To do this 
is however, at present, out of the question, for lack of time. 
On the other hand, much of this additional material has passed 
through my hands, and I have had a special opportunity 
of collecting all the available information concerning the 
Flora of Liberia, whilst Dr. Chevalier's admirable work has 
thrown much light on the phytogeography of the coterminous 
districts of Senegambia and French Guinea. I may, therefore, 
be pardoned for the present attempt of sketching in the most 
general outlines the main types of the vegetation of the 
Colony and its floral affinities. 

Three great regional belts traverse tropical West Africa 
from east to west. They are from north to south : (1) the 
desert belt of the Sahara ; (2) the steppe belt of the Sudan ; and 
(3) the forest belt of Upper Guinea. Sierra Leone lies 
entirely outside the desert belt of the Sahara, whilst the 
forest belt of Upper Guinea sweeps across the south-eastern 


frontier districts and a long, broad coastal zone, much broken 
up and thinning out towards the lower Scarcies, and the 
French Kiviere du Sud until it disappears in the neighbour- 
hood of Casamance. All the country on the land side of the 
forest belt is grasse steppe or savannah, greatly varied by the 
presence of narrow bands of river woods, open park land, 
bush of greater or lesser density, and areas under cultivation. 
It is not possible, at present, to indicate even roughly the 
width of the forest belt in its different sections, and no doubt 
the boundary line between it and the steppe belt will be found 
to be extremely irregular. The vegetation of the forest belt is 
generally compact and often almost impenetrable evergreen 
rain forest, consisting at least up to 2,000 feet of tall trees 
interlaced with creepers ; above this altitude, which is, how- 
ever, not often exceeded, the tree growth becomes stunted 
and dwarfed. The rain forest is often interrupted by 
swamp areas studded with young oil palms and clearings, 
overgrown with tall grass and by rice and millet fields, whilst 
along the coast other types of vegetation take its place, as the 
well-known mangrove formation, in the tidal regions of the 
estuaries of the rivers, and the " mangrove orchards " of the 
Bulom shore ; a type of strand bush above high-water mark, 
where the coast is formed by a low shelf of land ; and the 
sand beach formation of creeping grasses and halophilous 
herbs, among which Ipomaea pes Gaprae is the most 
striking object. The evergreen rain forest is essentially 
hygrophilous and hydrophilous ; that is, dependent on a 
voluminous supply of water by streams, or a high degree of 
atmospheric moisture and an excessive rainfall such as the 
coast of Sierra Leone possesses. That the belt over the 
greater part of the area is so much broken up is mainly due 
to the persistent clearing of large tracts for purposes of 
cultivation, but in places also no doubt to local conditions. 

The forest belt covers probably not more than 20 to 25 per 
cent, of the area of the Colony, the remainder being all steppe 
with the variations already indicated. This steppe up to 
2,000 feet is characterised by the predominance of coarse 


grasses, usually up to 8 feet, but occasionally to 12 feet and 
even 15 feet in height, and a great variety of herbs, inter- 
spersed with trees or patches of woods of a more or less open 
kind, or of dense bush 20 to 30 feet high, all of which gives 
it frequently a park-like appearance. In some of the 
mountainous districts the bush may assume the aspect of a 
low forest and cover large areas. But the tableland of the 
north- east between 2,000 and 3,000 feet, is generally covered 
with a much lower (2 to 3 feet) growth of grasses and herbs 
and the trees are so much scattered as to produce not any 
longer the impression of park scenery. All this vegetation 
is xerophilous or subxerophilous. It is only along the alluvia 
of the rivers that we come across narrow bands of hygrophilous 
woods, in reality continuations of the forest belt. Nowhere 
does the land rise high enough to make room for a distinct 
highland flora. 

Turning to the composition of the flora, we find that the 
evergreen rain forest is, in Sierra Leone, essentially the same 
as in the more eastern sections of Upper Guinea, only slightly 
modified by the accession of endemic elements, and the dis- 
appearance of others. The same also applies to the mangrove 
formation. Similarly the steppe flora of Sierra Leone in its 
composition continues the characters of the steppes of 
Southern Senegambia and of French Guinea with a moderate 
influx of peculiar types. Thus in neither of its main 
constituents can the flora of Sierra Leone claim the rank of a 
particularly specialised section of the flora of West Africa. 
To what extent it might be treated as a subordinate section 
is still an open question. One peculiarity of the West 
African flora, the presence of a not inconsiderable American- 
African element, is, as might be expected, also manifest in 
the flora of Sierra Leone. 

The economic wealth of the indigenous flora of Sierra Leone 
is no doubt considerable, as so many of the timber, dye, rubber, 
oil, gum, fibre plants, etc., of West Africa extend into Sierra 
Leone. A list of the economic plants of the Colony compiled 
from the earlier records contained in Moloney's " Sketch of 


the Forestry of West Africa," and in Scott Elliot's " Report on 
the Anglo-French Boundary Commission," and revised and 
amplified from the collections obtained more recently, would, 
no doubt, give us a clear idea of the natural resources of the 
plant world of Sierra Leone. But to make it reliable and 
complete will involve a general census of the flowering plants 
of the Colony. This would be the more valuable, as it could 
serve as a basis for any problem arising in connection with 
the flora of the country. 



Bare — a roofed enclosure for meetings, etc. 

Bern pa — a rite resembling satka in every feature, except 

that the name of Kurumasaba is not mentioned. 
Betieli — the same as yunkoli, circumciser. 
Boromasar — ancestral stones; stones which represent the 

Bogboro — the bag in which the emblems of a chief are 

Bundu — woman's initiation society. 
Four-eyed — used of a diviner, or other person who can see 

krifi, ghosts, etc. 
Kan d e — paramount chief. 
Kaiita — (a) the house in which the kande is shut up during 

the preliminary ceremonies ; (b) the charms for closing 

the farm against witches, etc. 
K a p a r — sub-chief. 

Konte — small gong struck with a ring. 
Krifi — ■((>) demi-god or spirit ; (b) dead man; (e) tutelar of 

secret society. 
Kur — family in the restricted sense. 
Mat' oi — mashed leaves used for purificatory ceremonies. 
Masam — " forbidden " ; a ritual prohibition. 
Mori man — a Mohammedan. 
Orok — grandson; the sister's son of a paramount chief who 

acts as regent after his decease. 
Poro — man's secret society. 

Prayer board — wood inscribed with Arabic prayers. 
Rabenle — man's secret, society, corresponding, in part, to 

Por< ». 
Rokian, rokina — the same as boromasar. 
Eokrifi — the place of the dead. 

N 3 


Satka — usually translated " sacrifice," but more accurately 

•' blessing." 
Sema — circumcised person. 

8 in a, si a n — " medicine " for catching witches, tbieves, etc. 
Soko — a member of the Poro Society. 
Turuma — the meeting place of the Eabenle. 
Wanka — charm or magical implement against tbieves. 
Y u n k o 1 i — circumciser. 




abari, ? Cyrtosperma sp. 

afil, l Scleria Barteri, Boeck ; *Desmodium laswcarpum, DC. 

akam, Bixa orellana, Linn. 

akimban (5778), Platystoma africanum, Beauv. 

akon, Agelaea villosa, Planch. 

ankonta (1 77). 

ankonkorot, Cassia Sieberiana, DC. 

boluutai, Akhornea cordifolia, Mull. Arg. 

qbamp (2538). 

^bgpr (60). 

^buiik, LHoscorea sativa, Linn. 

gbusuk, Clerodendron scandens, Beauv. 

tjbeli, Phyllanthus florifound/us, Mull. Arg. 

ekant (248), Anisophyllea laurina, Don. 

^kati (3612), Combretum grandijlorwn, Don. 

qlabo, Sapindaceae sp. 

$tep (1544). 

Qnana (? 109), Ficus eocasperata, Vdhl. 

^purpur, l Dalbergia sp. : z Cardiospermum BJalicacabum, 

Qpilpila (6968). 
gronko (44). 

etanke, Sorindeia juglandifolia, Planch. 

Qtoma, Dioscun c prehensilis, Ben fit. 
etet, Thalia genieulata, Linn. 
fjtitij l Mdesobotrya sparsijlora, ffutchiiison ; ^Heisteria parvi- 

folia, Sm. 
fori, Craterispermum taurine m, Benth. 


kabe,te (5929). 

kalmiitila (904). 

kafeka, corkwood. 

kakump, Dracaena Perrotteti, Baiter. 

kalop (1544). 

kalolum, Selaginella Vogelii, Spring. 

katap, Palisota thyrsiflora, Benth. 

katop (256). 

kakant, Oldenlandia macrophylla, DC. 

knmban, ? Usteria guineensis, Don. 

mabele (56] ). Goffea jasminoides, Welw. 

Qiakunt (6593). 

mayente, Sesamum indicum. 

niiiita, Hugonia Planchoni, Hk.f. 

peni, DigUaria longifiora, Pers. 

ratorik (? 606), Gominelina nudifiora, Linn. 

tabese (1142). 


tobqyo, Sorghum halepeme, Pers., var. 

In a certain number of cases the names have not yet been 
determined ; the numbers in brackets are those of the 
corresponding specimens at Kew. 

Where two names are given, specimens of both were 
collected under one name, and it has not been possible to 
discriminate. ' 

Many names given in the Eeport are unidentified owing to 
the specimens having been collected under other names. 



abe,mpa, 32, 34, 39, 41 sq., 67 sq., 174. 

Adonis, gardens of, 30. 

adoption, 159, 165. 

adultery, 75, 97, 101, 102. 

akonto, 46. 

animism. 66, 71, 74, 93, 128. 

see also krifi, dead. 
Ankoi, 152. 
anthill, 55, 150, 180. 
Aronso, 34. 
astronomy, 179. 
asur, 78, 80. 
ate,t tot, 36. 
Atobankere, 31. 

automatic action of wanka, 66, 67. 
automatisms, 83 sq. 
avoidance, 74. 

" bad dead.." 43. 

Bai Farama, 25. 

banana, shooting at, 58, 149. 

beating a god, 33. 

birth, 28, 76, 79, 108 sq. 

blacksmith, 77, 81, 150. 

blood, 57, 157. 

blood money, 154. 

body marks, 111. 

boro masar, 41. 

botany, 5, 181. 

bride-price, 95, 97, 98, 100, 101. 


bridge, 12. 

Bubm, 7, 10, 103 sq., 144, 152. 

bullroarer, 150. 

Bundu, 13, 28, 76, 95, 101, 122, 151, 152. 

burial, 39, 49, 51, 77, 78, 118 sq., 146. 

see also grave, 
bush krifi, 32. 

character, 6, 174. 

chief, paramount, 25 sq., 70, 121, 129, 143, 146, 153, 167. 

child, burial of, 124, 129. 

children, procuring, 36. 

circumcision, 50, 76, 114 sq. 

clan, 25, 132 sq. 

see also totem, 
classificatory system, 103 sq. 
clitoridectomy, 13. 

colour, importance of, 58, 126, 129, 130. 
communal property, 168. 
continence, 77. 
cotton tree, 38, 41. 
crops, 172. 

cross cousins, 75, 91, 101. 
crystal-gazing, 84. 
curse, 46 sq., 68, 72 sq., 80 sq. 

dead, cult of, 30, 31, 33, 41 sq., 120 sq. 

debt, 169. 

disease and burial, 125. 

divination, 32, 49 sq., 80 sq., 110. 

divorce, 93 sq., 99. 

dog sacrifice, 147. 

doll, 114. 

dowry, 98. 

dream, 32, 40, 86 sq., 149. 

drought, customs in, 30, 40. 


eclipse, 179. 
embalming, 125. 
ethnography, 12. 
exogamy, 91, 135. 

family (aknr), 155, 156. 

fan, 53 sq., 88. 

Fahge, 149. 

farming, 172. 

father's brother, 105, 106. 

father's brother's wife, 105, 106. 

father's sister's husband, 106. 

father's sister, 105. 

fecundity, 14 sq. 

fetish, 33. 

fire, 147, 149. 

fire clan, 136. 

fishing rights, 98, 178. 

fosterage, 110. 

"four eyes," 35, 39, 51, 111. 

freeing slave, 159. 

future life, 43 ; 44, 125. 

ghost, 40, 44, 51. 

go-between in marriage customs, 94. 
god, name of, 39. 
see also kuru. 
gong, 12. 

grave, 41 sq., 71, 119^., 129, 151. 
guardian, 163. 

hair of child, 110, 111. 
hammock, 12. 
holiness, see mas am. 
homicide, 156. 
house, shape of, 12. 
house, stone, 12. 


impotence, 100. 
incest, 32, 74. 
inheritance, 99, 161. 
interest, 171. 

iron, 51, 71. 

joint ownership, 163. 
judicial procedure, 153. 

kanta, 46, 60, 62, 67 sq. 

kaloko, 150. 

Katokodo, 149. 

kinki, 152. 

kinship, 72, 102 sq. 

Kisi, 10, 11. 

Kofo, 87, 149. 

Koranko, 12, 26, 39, 67, 103 sq., 130, 139, 141, 152, 168, 180. 

krifi, 31 sq., 47, 62, 71, 85 sq., 150 sq., 175. 

Krim, 10. 

Kumba, 30. 

Kumpa matir, 36, 150. 

k umunko, 150. 

kunte, 25. 

kure, 152. 

kuru, 29, 31, 60. 

lamentation, 119. 

land, 165 sq. 

languages, 7 sq. 

law, 153 sq. 

leechcraft, 115. 

leopard, 37. 

Limba, 9, 11, 12, 26, 39, 50, 59, 78, 86, 101, 103 tq., 112, 

117, 130, 139, 149, 152, 157, 169. 
loan, 165 sq., 169. 
loan to husband, 99. 


Loko, 9, 26, 30, 39, 59, 67, 78, 101, 103 sq., 129, 141, 152, 

lustration, 126. 
see also mat'oi. 

mafgi, 76, 81, 82, 114, 148. 

malformation, 32. 

Mandingo, 7, 11. 

manual rite, 53, 56. 

marriage, 91 sq., 160. 

Masare, 179. 

masom, 27, 37, 57, 60, 69 sq., 98, 108, 113, 115, 132 sq. 

141, 148. 
mask, 28, 116, 147. 
matrilineal descent, 25, 92, 152, 164. 
matrilocal marriage, 107, 108. 
medicine, 46 sq., 82 sq. 
Mendi, 103 sq., 111. 
mica, 36. 

mimetic rites, 53 sq. 

Mohammedan customs, 29, 42, 43, 109, 110, 121, 128. 
morality, 74. 

mother's brother's wife, 105, 106. 
mother's sister, 105. 
murder, 154, 161. 

name tabu, 115, 125. 
naming child, 110. 

old age, 6. 
omen, 71, 86 sq. 
oral rite, 54 sq. 
ordeal, 47 sq., 81 sq. 
orientation of grave, 129. 

palm oil, 176. 
palm wine, 175. 


parents, sacrifice to, 42. 
parents-in-law, 69. 

see also kinship. 
parrot, word for, 8. 
pawning, 166 sq. 

physical features, 5. 
piacular sacrifice, 69. 
Poro, 143, 169. 
pottery, 177. 
prayer, see oral rite, 
property, woman's, 93 sq., 163. 

Kabenle, 36, 74, 78, 143, 146 sq., 169. 

rainbow, 180. 

Bamena, 151. 

Baruba, 151. 

regent, 27. 

religion, 29 sq. 

renunciation, 55. 

rice-bin, 12. 

rice customs, 30, 36, 39, 75, 77, 174. 

ritual prohibitions, 27, 57, 69 sq., 77. 

sacrifice, 120 sq. 

see satka, abqmpa. 
Sanda Timne, 13. 
Sanko, 28. 
sasa, 80 sq. 

satka, 29, 37, 50, 52 sq., 87, 109, 120, 127, 128, 160. 174. 
satka and wanka, 57. 
sena, 80. 
sex ratio, 14 sq. 
sexual relations, 72, 76. 
side chamber grave, 130. 
sister's son, 105, 126. 
slavery, 158 sq. 
sling, 12. 


sneezing, 43. 

society, secret, 34, 77, 143 sq. 

see also Bimdu. 
somatology, 6. 

son-in-law, duties of, 98, 108, 119 sq. 
spell, 46, 50, 59. 
stone houses, 12. 
stone images, 39. 

stone in cult, 34, 140, 41 sq., 50, 150. 
stone implements, 180. 
stranger, 43, 166, 170. 
Susu, 38, 50, 58, 100, 103 sq., Ill, 129, 157,161, 165, 171, 

sympathetic rites, 52 sq. 

tabu, 62, 67, 77. 

see also wanka. 
tambara antQf, 34. 
tana, 106, 142. 
theft, 69, 156. 
Timne migrations, 9. 
tooth customs, 111. 
totem, 38, 61, 63, 132 sq. 
traders, 6, 163. 
transference, 55, 57. 
transformation, 50. 
trap, 33, 38, 179. 
trees, 166 sq. 
Tubanga, 30. 
tutelary spirit, 149. 

see also krifi. 
twins, 17, 39, 88, 111, 112, 130, 165. 

Vai, 103 sq. 
vegetation god, 30, 40. 
victim, colour of, 58. 

victim, sanctity of, 56, 69. 


village, typical, 22. 
virgin money, 96, 97. 

wali, 40. 

wanka, 57, 60 sq., 137. 

wastrel, 156, 163, 167. 

widow, 75, 92, 125, 127 sq. 

witch, 36, 39, 40, 46 sq., 50, 58, 78, 130, 175. 

woman's property, 93. 

xylophone, 12. 

Yalunka, 67, 103 sq., 140. 
Yarg, 35. 
Yehenama, 44. 

zoology, 5, 








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